Three Palestinians were injured when an IAF aircraft struck a motorcycle in Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday morning. The IDF said that the target, Ahmed Sa’ad, who was riding the motorcycle, was suspected of firing rockets at Israel. Sa’ad was critically injured in the strike, a Palestinian health official said.
Two Palestinian civilians were wounded by shrapnel, Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Kidra said. One of them was reportedly a 12-year-old boy.
Sa’ad, 22, “was a key Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative in the Gaza Strip specializing in rocket launching,” the army said in a statement. He was “personally responsible” for a recent series of rocket attacks against Israel, and his “terrorist activities over the years include concealing, directing, and launching rockets at southern Israel in numerous incidents,” the statement read.
An Islamic Jihad official in Gaza confirmed Saad was targeted Sunday. He spoke anonymously because he was unauthorized to speak to the press.
“The IDF targeted an integral component of the Gaza terrorist mechanism in order to diminish terrorist capabilities and send a clear message of intolerance to the aggression from the Hamas territory,” IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said.
The attack came after Israeli planes hit two sites in the Gaza Strip in retaliation for an earlier rocket strike at southern Israel.
The Israeli Air Force hit two “terror sites” in the southern and central Gaza Strip, according to a statement from the Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson’s Unit early Sunday morning.
The last week has seen an uptick on rocket attacks out of Gaza, after a lull for over a year following Israel’s eight-day engagement with Gaza in November 2012.
Israel was targeted by a large volley of rockets late Wednesday night, with eight missiles shot at the coastal city of Ashkelon; five of them were shot down by the Iron Dome anti-missile system and three landed in open areas.
Israeli officials have vowed to respond forcefully to attacks out of Gaza.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.