IDF on heightened alert as PIJ marks one-year since Al-Ata assassination

The anniversary comes on the same week as the death anniversary of former PLO leader Yasser Arafat and the deaths this week of Saeb Erekat and a Palestinian security prisoner.

THE IRON Dome defense system. (photo credit: REUTERS)
THE IRON Dome defense system.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Additional Iron Dome batteries are being deployed in southern Israel, and flight paths into Ben-Gurion Airport were rerouted to arrive and depart from the North, as the IDF entered a heightened state of alert ahead of the one-year anniversary of the assassination of Palestinian Islamic Jihad commander Bahaa Abu al-Ata, according to Israeli media.
The anniversary will be marked by the PIJ on Thursday.
Hundreds of rockets were fired toward southern and central Israel within a matter of days after al-Ata was assassinated by the IDF in November 2019. Al-Ata was responsible for a number of attacks against Israel and was the head of the PIJ’s military branch, the Al-Quds Brigade, in the Gaza Strip.
The anniversary of the assassination comes in the same week as the anniversary of the death of PLO leader Yasser Arafat and the deaths this week of chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and Palestinian security prisoner Kamal Abu Waer.
Wednesday also marks the two-year anniversary of the botched Khan Yunis commando raid in 2018 in which an elite IDF officer was killed and another officer was moderately wounded. Six Hamas terrorists were killed in the incident as well. Hundreds of rockets were fired into southern Israel following the raid.
Tensions also remain along the northern border as the IDF shot down a Hezbollah drone that infiltrated into Israeli territory on Tuesday. No danger was posed to civilians or IDF soldiers.
The IDF has been on alert in northern Israel since July when a Hezbollah terrorist was killed in an alleged Israeli airstrike in Damascus and the group threatened to carry out a revenge attack on Israel.
Hezbollah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah will speak on Wednesday evening at 8:30 p.m. to mark Martyr Day. The speech will cover political developments and events, including the normalization deals with Israel, military exercises carried out recently by the IDF and the situation along the Lebanese-Israeli border.
Hezbollah’s Martyr Day marks the anniversary of an alleged suicide bombing attack which Hezbollah claims was carried out by a terrorist on an IDF building in Tyre in 1982, although the details of the incident remain in dispute to this day. Some 76 Israelis and 15 Lebanese detainees were killed in the incident.
While Hezbollah claims the incident was a suicide bombing, the Israeli government determined that the incident was due to a gas leak and inadequate construction, not a suicide bombing.
Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.