Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said on Thursday that Israel will always work to protect its citizens, a day after the IAF struck targets in Gaza as a reaction to a rocket that was fired into Israel.

"We will not ignore the fire or the attempted attacks whose purpose is to disrupt the lives of our citizens living in the South and harm our forces.  We will pursue and lay our hands on whoever threatens us.  We will know how to act whenever and wherever necessary to thwart any attempts by terrorist forces in Gaza to strike Israeli citizens, as we did last night." he said.

On Wednesday morning a rocket sent from Gaza narrowly missed a main artery in southern Israel as it landed in a nearby dirt field without causing any injuries.

Wednesday night the Israeli Air Force with the help of Shin Bet (Israel Security Service) targeted Mahmed Awwar, 33, of Beit Lahia, killing him from the air, in a joint operation with the Israel’s Security Agency.

The IDF charged that Awwar had been involved in many past rocket attacks against Israel, particularly in the last few months while he worked as a policeman for Hamas.

It noted in particular that Awwar had participated in a rocket attack on April 21, during Passover, which had targeted Sderot.

“This terror infrastructure is a violent and extremist Salafi cell which has carried out several rocket attacks and has attempted to implement diverse terror attacks against Israel as well as attempts to target a helicopter.

“The preemptive strike was intended to prevent Awwar from executing further attacks he had planned against Israel,” the IDF said.

The Gaza launched rocket which hit the Eshkol region along Israel’s southern border was the first such attack since the new unity government jointly sponsored by Fatah and Hamas was sworn into office last week.

Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.



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