The IDF confirmed on Tuesday evening that the IDF struck a terrorist squad in the Gaza Strip preparing to fire anti-tank missiles at Israel.
“A short while ago, an IDF aircraft struck a terrorist squad belonging to the Islamic Jihad terror organization,” the IDF spokesperson stated.
“The squad was taking anti-tank guided missiles by car to a launch pad in the city of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. IDF soldiers monitored the squad’s activity and struck its members while they were on their way to the launch pad.”
Two terrorists were killed in the strike and two were wounded, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry.
Israel on Tuesday is girding itself for retaliatory strikes from Gaza following the launching of Operation Shield and Arrow overnight Monday, with airstrikes in Gaza eliminating three Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leaders and killing ten Gazan residents
Palestinian sources on Tuesday morning claimed that the three PIJ leaders who were eliminated had been in hiding since launching rockets at Israel and were preparing to travel to Cairo as part of a PIJ delegation. They had just received approval from Egypt for the trip and had briefly emerged from hiding to say goodbye to their families when they were eliminated.
The Hamas terror group threatened retaliation despite the fact that the IDF made it clear that the operation is directed against the Islamic Jihad. Top Israeli security officials reportedly fear that hundreds of rockets will be launched toward cities in central Israel once Gazan leaders recover from the unexpected attack. One minister said that Israel is currently “in the quiet before the storm.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant held a situational assessment on Tuesday morning. The full-political security cabinet will be convened at 5 p.m. The cabinet was not convened prior to the operation as Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara authorized Netanyahu to launch the strikes without convening the cabinet, which meant that many top Israeli officials were just as surprised by the operation as Gazan officials were.
All schools in the Negev and in Gaza border communities were closed on Tuesday.
Hospitals in the south, including Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon and Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva have transferred their patients to fortified areas.
Cities in southern Israel and numerous cities in central Israel opened their bomb shelters, including Ra’anana, Hertziliya, Kfar Saba, Rishon L’Tzion, Bat Yam, Yavneh, Ashkelon and Be’er Sheva.
The Sderot train station was closed and train service was suspended between Netivot and Ashkelon.
The IDF’s Home Front Command has instructed residents of the south to stay near bomb shelters and banned gatherings of over 10 people in open areas and over 100 people in buildings.
A statement from Hamas said: “We see the Zionist occupation and its extreme fascist government as fully responsible for this heinous crime and its serious consequences. We confirm that Israel will pay a heavy price for its increasing crime and terrorism against our people in the Gaza Strip and across the West Bank, in Jerusalem, at the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Zionists will not succeed in achieving their goals and their aggressive plan. We’re committed to our gaol until the occupation is defeated.”
Islamic Jihad responded to the operation by stating: “The Zionist enemy bears full responsibility for this treacherous and abominable terrorist massacre that crossed all borders and is a serious violation of the ceasefire. The Palestinian response will not be delayed, we will not be complacent and the enemy will not achieve its goals. The resistance has united ranks.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)