The IAF struck a vehicle in Gaza on Friday, killing two senior officials of the Popular Resistance Committee (PRC), in a move to thwart a large-scale terror attack that was in its last stages of preparation, according to the IDF spokesperson.

The IDF confirmed that the two killed in the attack were: commander of the PRC Zuhair Qaisi; and Ahmad Hanini, a senior PRC member. A Hamas official said Hanani had been exiled by Israel five years ago, denying earlier reports he had been one of those freed from an Israeli jail last year as part of a prisoner swap deal to gain the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit.

The IDF stated that the attack was part of an operation to thwart the intentions of terrorists to carry out terror attacks in Sinai, along the border between Israel and Egypt. Qaisi had been planning and leading over the past few days, a major terror attack against Israeli targets, and the strike was conducted in order to prevent the attack, the IDF said in a statement.

It added that the IDF was not interested in escalation but was ready to defend Israel and would respond forcefully and decisively against against any attempt at terrorist activity.

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The explosion happened shortly after two mortar shells were fired at Israel from the Hamas-ruled territory, causing no damage or injury. The explosions occurred in open fields in the Eshkol regional council, which abuts the border with the Gaza Strip.

Senior IDF officials reacted to the mortar shell attacks, telling Army Radio that they would not allow the firing to continue. The officials expressed surprise that, with no reason, the shooting at civilians from Gaza continued "on Friday too... at villages surrounding Gaza." They also stressed that the mortar shell attacks had been unprovoked, and were carried out when there had been no previous IDF action in Gaza.

Reuters contributed to this report

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