The IAF launched an air strike on a terrorist on Tuesday, killing a figure who
was associated with the global jihadi movement and whom security forces have
linked to last month’s rocket attack on Eilat.
The air strike was the
first of its kind since the end of Operation Pillar of Defense in November
Security forces have named the targeted man as 24-year-old Hitham
Mashal, a resident of northern Gaza. Mashal was active in multiple Salafi-jihadi
organizations, and was a weapons expert linked to last month’s twin rocket
attack on Eilat, security forces said.
The Shin Bet (Israel Security
Agency) and the IDF jointly carried out Tuesday’s air strike, which occurred at
“Mashal dealt in the manufacturing, upgrading and trade of
firearms, particularly rockets and bombs, which he delivered to various terror
organizations for profit, and to promote terrorism against the IDF and Israeli
civilians,” the Shin Bet added.
Mashal provided arms to the Ashura
Council of Holy Fighters in the Environs of Jerusalem, a global jihadi
organization that fired rockets on Eilat and at the western Negev earlier this
“Mashal was involved in promoting and carrying out [the Eilat]
attack,” the Shin Bet said. “His activity was known to Hamas, which refrained
from stopping him.”
The targeted air strike was designed to thwart future
attacks from Gaza and Sinai – attacks that are in the planning
“Hamas is responsible for preventing attacks carried out, planned
and advanced in Gaza,” security forces added.
Following the air strike,
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said, “Today we struck at one of those
involved in the criminal firing of rockets at Eilat. I said that we would not
ignore this; our action is a continuation of our policy. We will not accept the
sporadic firing of rockets from either the Gaza Strip or Sinai. We will act, and
are acting, in order to defend Israeli citizens.”
Later on Tuesday,
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said he would consider reopening the Kerem Shalom
border crossing to Gaza on Wednesday morning, if there were no additional
Palestinian rocket attacks on the South.
The crossing has been closed for
several days following multiple Palestinian attacks on southern
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Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.