Smart bombs, precise intel – How Israel targeted Islamic Jihad in Gaza

Operation Breaking Dawn increased deterrence, changed the face of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement and restored stability.

An Israeli Air Force F-35 during Operation Breaking Dawn, August 2022 (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
An Israeli Air Force F-35 during Operation Breaking Dawn, August 2022
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

Eight bombs, including one that exploded in the apartment on the floor above where he was hiding, were fired by the Israel Air Force and used to kill senior Islamic Jihad commander Tayseer al-Jabari in the northern Gaza Strip during Operation Breaking Dawn last Friday.

During the three days of fighting, the IDF succeeded in killing more than a dozen senior Islamic Jihad terrorist commanders in the Gaza Strip and destroyed key terrorist infrastructure that was used to manufacture weapons. Iron Dome missile batteries intercepted 97% of rockets deemed to have a dangerous trajectory.

Senior officials in the defense establishment stated on Tuesday that the IDF had met all the objectives that were set at the beginning of the operation, including focusing strikes only on Islamic Jihad, degrading the group’s capabilities, assassinating senior officials and preventing attacks against Israel.

The operation increased deterrence, changed the face of the Islamic Jihad movement and restored stability to the area, according to the officials.

How Operation Breaking Dawn began

The IDF clarified on Tuesday that shortly after the arrest of Islamic Jihad leader Bassam al-Saadi in Jenin last week, threats were made by the group to carry out sniper and anti-tank attacks against Israelis; this led to OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Eliezer Toledano raising the level of alert in the region and refreshed an operative plan known as “Black Sash,” which was formulated to target Islamic Jihad.

Early Wednesday, the defense establishment received an alert that the group planned to launch an anti-tank missile at a civilian Israeli bus, leading to the decision to impose strict restrictions on movement to residents of the western Negev.

IDF operations during Operation Breaking Dawn, August 2022 (Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi demanded from the beginning that a strong defensive line be created along the border to prevent an attack and ordered the Southern Command to begin preparations for a strike that would include targeted assassinations against senior members of Islamic Jihad.

 IDF strikes Gaza during Operation Breaking Dawn, August 2022 (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT) IDF strikes Gaza during Operation Breaking Dawn, August 2022 (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

Two senior Islamic Jihad officials taken out in initial strike

The IDF originally planned to begin the strike on Saturday morning, but in the end decided to launch the strike on Friday at 4:15 p.m., with the airstrike against Jabari alongside a separate drone strike against Abdallah Kadum, a senior commander of the group’s anti-tank missile units. IDF drones and tanks carried out strikes against the movement’s positions and observation points at the same time.

Air force commander Maj.-Gen. Tomer Bar chose an innovative way to strike Jabari, as he was in a 14-story building with 28 apartments and Israel wanted to minimize harm to innocent civilians in nearby apartments. The result was a decision to use a smart bomb developed by Rafael, which penetrated an empty room in the apartment on the seventh floor. The bomb exploded, destroying just the floor, and brought the ceiling down on Jabari, who was in the apartment below, killing him.

Seconds later, IAF jets fired seven more missiles at the rooms of the apartment from different angles to kill any other terrorists inside.

The IDF also assassinated Khaled Mansour, the commander of Islamic Jihad in southern Gaza, during the operation. Mansour had overseen terrorist attacks against Israel for years, including an attack in 2010, in which IDF soldiers Eliraz Peretz and Ilan Sviatkovsky were killed.

Mansour also served as the head of Islamic Jihad’s rocket unit and led hundreds of rocket launches against Israel.

Mansour was responsible for Islamic Jihad’s efforts to build terrorist tunnels into Israel. One of the tunnels built under his command, which was meant to be used to infiltrate into Israel, was destroyed during Operation Breaking Dawn.

The IDF originally planned to strike Mansour in an apartment he was hiding in, but called off the bombing after the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) discovered that it was right on top of a kindergarten. He later moved to another apartment and the attack was approved.

The targets hit during the operation were 17 observation points – including six that were manned at the time – 45 long-range missile targets, eight posts, eight weapon storehouses, six weapon manufacturing sites and three targets related to the movement’s naval efforts.

During the operation, 1,175 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israel, although about 200 fell short and fell within the coastal enclave; some of the failed launches caused civilian casualties.

It was also revealed on Tuesday that during the operation, Islamic Jihad had intended to launch a drone toward the Tamar gas rig off the coast of Ashdod, but the attempt failed and the drone was not launched, according to Army Radio.

 Missiles are placed on Israeli aircraft during Operation Breaking Dawn, August 2022 (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT) Missiles are placed on Israeli aircraft during Operation Breaking Dawn, August 2022 (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

During the operation, the air force had a large number of drones and fighter jets in the air above the Gaza Strip for both attack and intelligence-gathering purposes.

Footage and information collected by the aircraft were transmitted to a single operations room, where the commander of the air force was able to see all the footage of the various Islamic Jihad sites, as well as activity in Syria, Lebanon, Israel’s natural gas rigs in the Mediterranean and other locations.