Israel will act whenever and wherever necessary to defend its citizens against terror groups in the Gaza Strip, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Thursday, hours after Israel struck the Palestinian territory from the air.
Ya’alon said the IDF and Shin Bet security service had carried out a targeted strike against a Palestinian terrorist who was involved in rocket attacks against Israel.
Ya’alon did not confirm whether the man targeted, whom the IDF Spokesperson identified as 33-year-old Hamas policeman and Salafist activist Mohammed Awwar, was killed in the airstrike.
Ya’alon said that Israel would not tolerate “sporadic [rocket] fire or terrorism attempts whose aim is to disrupt the lives of residents of the south and harm our forces.”
“We will pursue and lay our hands on anyone who threatens us,” the defense minister said. “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.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement Wednesday that the country would “continue to take strong action against all those who try to attack the security of Israel’s citizens.”
“[Israel's] policy is clear — kill those who rise up to kill us,” Netanyahu said.
The IDF also said in a statement on Twitter that the airstrike “prevented [Awwar] from executing further attacks,” but a spokesperson wouldn’t comment on whether the Hamas man was killed, or merely injured, in the strike.
Awwar, a Hamas policeman also linked to Salafist extremists, was involved in two rocket attacks on southern Israel in April and an attempt to down an IDF helicopter, the army said in a statement. It said Awwar was planning more attacks when he was hit.
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) June 12, 2014
The IDF carried out the airstrike late Wednesday night on a motorcycle in the northern Gaza Strip. Palestinian media reported one person killed and two injured in the airstrike. One of the injured was a young passerby, Palestinian media reported.
Gaza Health Ministry Spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra identified the dead man as Muhammad Ahmad al-Arour, 30, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported.
The missile attack, Israel’s first on the Gaza Strip since the formation of a Palestinian unity government last week, came hours after a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip exploded in the Eshkol region of southern Israel. The rocket struck a road in the territory bordering the Palestinian territory, but inflicted no injuries.