IDF strikes targets across Gaza as Israel braces for escalation

Sources in Hamas said 'the leadership of the resistance has put all options on the table'


(JNS) The Israel Defense Forces struck Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket launching sites across the Gaza Strip on Wednesday.

In one instance, the air force struck a PIJ cell en route to a site near the city of Qarara close to Khan Younis.

“The IDF will continue to act to preserve the security of the residents of the State of Israel,” said the military in a statement.

The Israel Air Force on Tuesday evening attacked a PIJ cell in southern Gaza that was readying to fire an anti-tank missile across the border. The Hamas Health Ministry in Gaza reported that two PIJ terrorists were killed by the airstrike.

The air force eliminated three top PIJ leaders in strikes across Gaza early on Tuesday morning, following a month of intermittent confrontations with terrorists in the Palestinian enclave.

The IDF identified the targets of the operation as Khalil Bahitini, PIJ’s commander in northern Gaza; Jahed Ahnam, a senior member of the terror group’s “military” council; and Tarek Azaldin, who directed its activities in Judea and Samaria.

Sources in Hamas told Lebanon’s pro-Hezbollah Al-Akhbar newspaper on Wednesday that “the leadership of the resistance has put all options on the table” and “the response will be unified through the joining military of the resistance factions, and it will teach the occupation [Israel] a great lesson, and the responses will not be limited to a specific faction or a specific front, but rather all fronts are nominated to participate in the response.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a televised speech on Tuesday night, saying that he authorized the targeted assassinations of the three PIJ terrorist leaders after more than 100 rockets were fired at Israel last week.

The targeted strikes “became possible after our intelligence agencies provided precise intelligence that allowed us to reach these mass murderers before they could launch additional terrorist attacks,” added Netanyahu.

“As always, Israel tried to minimize civilian casualties, and the State of Israel regrets any harm caused to non-combatants. The difference between Israel and our enemies is that we make every effort to keep the enemies’ civilian population out of harm’s way, while our enemies make every effort to deliberately target our civilians. We mourn the loss of innocent lives; They celebrate the loss of innocent life,” he said.

“Israel’s policy is clear: Those who seek to harm Israel will be harmed. Those who kill our citizens will pay a heavy price. And those who fire on our cities and civilians will be held responsible for their actions,” he said.

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