Israel’s response to the terror attacks from the Sinai Peninsula came swiftly Thursday evening when the Israel Air Force bombed the southern Gaza Strip, killing the leadership of the Popular Resistance Committee (PRC), who had orchestrated the attacks.
At least seven Israelis, including a soldier from the Golani Brigade, were killed earlier in the day in a multiple-stage attack carried out by PRC members who infiltrated into Israel from Egypt.
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The PRC terrorists killed in the retaliatory IAF airstrike included the head of the terror group Kamal Nirab, who the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said, personally directed and planned the attack.
Another terrorist killed in the strike was identified as Amas Hamed,
commander of the PRC’s military wing and a resident of Rafah. The Shin
Bet said that Hamed was involved in the abduction of Gilad Schalit over
five years ago and oversaw numerous terror attacks against Israel
including suicide bombings and rocket attacks.
Two other known PRC terrorists, including one who was also involved in Schalit’s abduction, were also killed in the airstrike.
“The terrorists were directly involved in the attacks along the Israeli-Egyptian border,” a security official said.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that Israel would respond
and that the terrorist groups behind the attack would pay a
price for their actions.
“I set a principle that when Israeli citizens are hurt we will respond
immediately and forcefully,” Netanyahu said. “This principle will also
be applied today.”
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the IDF would escalate its
response to the attacks. He said that Egypt had lost its grip over the
Sinai Peninsula and that terrorist organizations were able to move
around there freely.
“The IDF has already struck the heads of the PRC in Gaza and if there
will be a need, the strikes will intensify,” Barak said. “The IDF will
use all of the force necessary to protect Israel’s citizens and to
enable a normal way of life in the country.”
On Thursday night, a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed south of
Ashkelon. Defense officials ordered security officers in communities
along the border with Gaza to prepare for an escalation in rocket fire.
The Iron Dome counter-rocket defense system later intercepted a
Grad-model Katyusha rocket fired from the Gaza Strip at Ashkelon.
PRC Spokesman Abu Mujahed released a statement that Israel would be held
responsible for "all the consequences of its crimes,” according to the
Maan news agency.