The Israeli Air Force on Wednesday morning targeted and hit two
terrorists in separate locations in the northern Gaza Strip who were
attempting to fire rockets into southern Israel.
Wednesday, two mortar shells fired from Gaza exploded in open areas in
the Eshkol Regional Council. No injuries were reported, but light damage
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mortar fire comes after the IDF on Wednesday morning confirmed that a
member of the terrorist group Islamic Jihad was killed in a car
explosion in the Gaza Strip as a result of an IAF strike. An IDF
statement said that the terrorist targeted in Rafah was involved in
weapons smuggling and militant operations in Egypt's Sinai from where
gunmen snuck into Israel killing eight last week
. Israel Radio reported that the terrorist killed in the strike was responsible for funding the Eilat attacks.
Palestinian news agency Ma'an said that the man killed was Ismail
al-Asmar, a field commander in the Al-Quds Brigade, the Islamic Jihad's
military wing. A spokesman for a
medical service run by Hamas said two other people were wounded after
the car was targeted by IAF aircraft.
"Israel will pay a heavy price for this crime," a statement by the Al-Quds Brigade said.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was expected to convene his security
cabinet on Wednesday morning to discuss the situation in the South, as well as unrest in both Libya and Syria
The South was on high alert Wednesday morning following the renewed
violence, with the Home Front Command instructing residents to stay
within 15 seconds of a secure bomb shelter.
Hamas condemned the IDF action, saying that they would discuss the Israeli breaking of what they claimed was a ceasefire
agreed upon by the two sides, with those who helped negotiate the informal truce.
On Monday, a senior diplomatic official said that Israel did not enter a
ceasefire agreement with Hamas, and it would continue to take action to
thwart any terrorist action, be it the firing of rockets or attempts to
infiltrate Israel coming from the Gaza Strip.
At the same time the official said if there were quiet from the other
side, Israel would not initiate a major military action inside Gaza.
This decision, he explained, was motivated by a number of factors,
including the situation in Egypt, Syria and the Palestinian Authority,
as well as the number of Iron Dome batteries Israel could deploy.
Government officials said throughout the day that Israel was concerned
that a large scale military action at this time could severely damage
ties with Egypt, which is currently in transition; could divert
attention from the situation in Syria; and might not be wise until
Israel has more Iron Dome batteries deployed in the South – it currently
has two – to defend larger swaths of the population from the missiles
that would inevitably rain down in the area in the event of a wider
Netanyahu convened a highlevel security and
diplomatic consultation that extended to 3 a.m. on Monday, where the
decision to act to thwart terrorist acts, but not initiate a major
military action, was taken.
According to the senior official, while Israel was ready for a war, it
did not want to be dragged into it at a time not of its own choosing. He
said that wider considerations needed to be taken into account,
including relations with Egypt and the US.
Reuters contributed to this report.