The Israeli army killed, on Tuesday at dawn, a senior leader of the Islamic Jihad Movement, and his wife, after firing several missiles into a building in the Sheja’eyya area, east of Gaza city, also wounding many members of their family, in addition to a female neighbor.
The Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad in Palestine, said the army assassinated Baha’ Abu al-‘Ata, 42, and his wife Asma’ Abu al-Ata, in addition to wounding their siblings, Salim, Mohammad, Lian, and Fatima az-Zahra’, in addition to their neighbor Hanan Hallas.
All wounded Palestinians were rushed to the Shifa Medical Center in Gaza.
In an official statement, the al-Quds Brigades has confirmed the death of Abu al-‘Ata, and said he was one of its prominent leaders and personally supervised various attacks against the Israeli army, and added that he was also subject to numerous assassination attempts by Israel.
The Brigades also stated that Israel is declaring war, and that Tel Aviv will witness the retaliation and the repercussions of this assassination.
“Our response will be huge; the enemy is responsible for the outcome of its crimes, and will pay for them,” the brigades added.
The brigades started firing shells into Israel almost an hour after the army assassinated its leader and his wife.
In addition, the Hamas movement and its military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, also issued statements vowing “fierce and painful retaliation.”
Israeli sources have reported that alarm sirens were sounded in many areas south of the country, including in Ashdod, Ashkelon Beit Elazari, Karmia, and Zikim, Rishon Le Zion, and even in Holon and Rishon Le Zion suburbs in Tel Aviv.
Israel daily Haaretz has reported that all schools were canceled, and bomb shelters were opened in Tel Aviv and many surrounding areas, and in Jerusalem.
It is worth mentioning that the Israeli army, and the Shin Bet, issued a joint statement claiming responsibility for assassinating the senior Islamic Jihad leader, and added that the strike was approved by Israeli Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu’s office said the offensive was recommended by the Israeli Army Chief of Staff and the Shin Bet (Israel’s internal security service) and was approved by Netanyahu.
The strike came just hours before Netanyahu is scheduled to hand the defense portfolio to Naftali Bennet from the Hayamin Hehadash (The New Right) party.
In related news, the Israeli army closed all border terminals in the besieged Gaza Strip and decreased the fishing zone to six nautical miles.
All schools in Gaza have been closed amidst mounting tension of a possible massive Israeli offensive against the coastal region.
It is worth mentioning that the Israeli Air Force also carried out an attempted assassination attack targeted a Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader in the Syrian capital, Damascus, but instead killed his son.
Syrian sources said the assassination attempt targeted Akram al-Ajjouri, but led to the death of his son Moath, in addition to another person, and injured ten others, including his daughter Batoul.