Israel and Gaza exchange fire after IDF strike kills Islamic Jihad commander

Rockets fall across southern Israel and sirens are sounded as far north as Tel Aviv after Baha Abu Al-Ata died in a targeted strike on his home


The IDF conducted multiple airstrikes in Gaza on Tuesday afternoon after an operation to kill an Islamic Jihad commander triggered retaliatory rocket fire towards central and southern Israel.

Schools as far as north as Tel Aviv were closed and non-essential workers advised to stay away from work after more than 50 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip.

Baha Abu Al-Ata, 42, and his wife died in Tuesday morning’s Israeli strike, a joint operation between the IDF and the Shin Bet intelligence service. A 25-year-old Palestinian died in a subsequent air raid.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Al-Ata had been planning an attack on Israeli territory.

“This arch-terrorist was the main perpetrator of terrorism in the Strip,” he said, according to Haaretz. “He was in the process of planning more attacks… he was [considered] a ticking bomb.”

There were reports of vehicles being damaged by rockets falling in Ashdod.

Three people suffered light injuries from shrapnel after a rocket landed near cars on a road between Gan Yaveneh and Ashdod, the United Hatzalah emergency response service said.

Separately in Holon, an eight-year-old girl was given CPR after collapsing in a stairwell from shock once the sirens were sounded.

Israel's Iron Dome defence system is said to have intercepted 20 of the incoming rockets.

The IDF said it had responded to the rockets with strikes on a training camp and on underground weapons manufacturing and storage sites.

Officials in the Gaza health ministry said a 25-year-old man was killed in one of the air strikes. It was not immediately clear whether had been a civilian, or a member of Hamas or Islamic Jihad.

In Britain, Sheila Gewolb, Senior Vice President of the Board of Deputies said: “Our thoughts and prayers go out to communities in Israel in the range of the latest bombardment from terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

“We call on the international community to stand with Israel as it faces this menace and help return a state of calm along the border, so both communities can live in peace and security.”

Yachad, the UK-based Jewish movement that campaigns for a two-state solution, said: “our thoughts and prayers are with the people on both sides of the Gaza border. Israelis deserve to live without being subjected to indiscriminate rocket fire. Both sides deserve to feel safe and secure.

“As tensions escalate between Israel and Gaza, it is important to remember that another round of violence will not make anyone safer, only brave political leadership will.”

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