Palestinians: IAF kills top Islamic Jihad operative in Gaza

2 others reported dead in air strike; earlier, IDF kills five Palestinian gunmen; TV footage shows projectile narrowly missing IAF helicopter.

gaza air strike 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
gaza air strike 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
The IAF killed the head of the Islamic Jihad's armed wing in central Gaza in a missile strike on his car in the Strip on Thursday night, Palestinians reported. The top terror operative, Muhammad Abdullah, was considered the "brains" behind Islamic Jihad operations in the area. According to Palestinian sources, IAF aircraft fired several missiles toward the car in which Abdullah and other gunmen were traveling. The sources said that two other Palestinians were killed in the air strike and several others were wounded. During earlier operations in Gaza Thursday, the IDF killed five members of Palestinian terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip in air strikes and fire exchanges. Two Islamic Jihad men were killed in an IAF strike on their car in the early evening, Palestinian officials said. The military said it targeted a car filled with explosives on the way to an attack. Earlier, the IDF killed three Palestinian gunmen in an exchange of fire and an air strike in the southern Gaza Strip, the army reported. Palestinians said the dead were members of Hamas. Nine people were wounded, including four civilians, Palestinians reported, claiming that among the wounded was a 13-year-old boy. None of the injuries were life threatening, officials said. An army spokesman said a cell of four gunmen had fired an RPG at an army bulldozer operating in the Gaza territory. Troops returned fire, killing three of the men, said the spokesman. A subsequent air strike targeted the fourth cell member, the army said, but it was unclear if he had been hurt. During the operations, Gaza gunmen fired a projectile at an IDF helicopter, just missing it, Channel 2 footage showed. The footage showed a streak of light passing by the helicopter as it flew above the Strip. It was unclear if the weapon was a new type of anti-aircraft missile or a whether the attack was merely a case of gunmen improvising with a simple rocket. The army said an initial inquiry had shown that the pilots were unaware of any anti-aircraft fire being directed toward them, but added that it was still looking into the incident. Also on Thursday, an IDF elite unit Special and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) arrested two Islamic Jihad commanders in the West Bank, Palestinian sources reported. Muhammad a-Saida, both a member of the terrorist organization and a lecturer at Nablus's a-Najah University, was caught by security forces outside of the town. Saida was released from an Israeli prison three months ago, Army Radio reported. The second operative, Samar a-Sa'adi, who was described by Palestinians as the group's commander in Jenin, was arrested in the city's refugee camp. Defense officials said that both men were involved in terror attacks. The IDF confirmed only the arrest in Nablus. Meanwhile, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fired two Kassam rockets and two mortar shells at the western Negev, while gunmen fired at IDF soldiers along the border with the central Gaza Strip. There were no reports of casualties or damage. In addition, according to Army Radio, a bullet was shot into the roof of a factory in Kibbutz Nir Oz. Defense officials were investigating the incident. Also Thursday, Hamas's armed wing Izzadin Kassam announced that one of its members was killed in a training accident in Gaza.