10 civilians, including 4 children, killed in IDF strikes that eliminated PIJ brass

‘Collateral’ includes 2 kids of Islamic Jihad’s West Bank commander; dentist, wife and son living below another senior fighter; 2 sisters living near 3rd terrorist

Siblings Ali and Mayar ed-Din, who were killed in an IDF airstrike on May 9, 2023. (Courtesy)
Siblings Ali and Mayar ed-Din, who were killed in an IDF airstrike on May 9, 2023. (Courtesy)

Ten Palestinian civilians, including four children, were killed in the predawn Israeli airstrikes that eliminated three senior members of the Islamic Jihad terror group in Gaza on Tuesday.

The Israel Defense Forces said it assassinated Khalil Bahtini, who commands Islamic Jihad in northern Gaza; Jihad Ghanem, a top official in the group’s military council; and Tareq Izz ed-Din, who it said directs Islamic Jihad terror activities in the West Bank from a base in Gaza.

Each of them was home with relatives when the missiles struck their residences just after 2 a.m., leading to the high casualty count. Several neighbors of the Islamic Jihad military leaders were also killed and roughly 20 other people were injured in the Rafah and Gaza City strikes, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

An Israel Defense Forces spokesperson told foreign press, “We’re aware of some collateral and we’ll learn more as the day goes ahead.”

Briefing Israeli reporters, IDF chief spokesperson Daniel Hagari said the army was aware that there were civilians killed in the airstrikes but insisted that “the operation was carried out with professionalism and precision in planning and execution.”

In the strike killing Izz ed-Din, his 9- and 10-year-old children Ali and Mayar were killed.

In the strike killing Bahtini, his 5-year-old daughter Hajar was killed along with his cousin Laila.

In the strike on Ghanem, his wife Wafa was also killed.

Five other civilians from two families living near or in the same buildings as the Islamic Jihad leaders also lost their lives.

Jamal Khaswan, a dentist and dual Russian national, was killed along with his wife Mirvat and son Yousef. His 10-year-old daughter Diala survived the strike. They lived in an apartment below Izz ed-Din.

Sisters Dania, 19, and Eman, 14, were killed together weeks before the former’s wedding.

The so-called Joint Operations Room of various Palestinian terror factions in the Gaza Strip, which includes both Hamas and Islamic Jihad, said Israel and its leaders would “pay the price” for the deadly airstrikes.

The IDF said Bahtini was Islamic Jihad’s “senior operational officer,” with close contacts to the group’s political leadership. He took over the position after the group’s previous commander was killed in a strike last year.

Bahtini, 44, who lived in Gaza City, began his activity in Islamic Jihad during the late 90s. The IDF said that throughout the years, he was involved in terror activity against Israel including suicide bombings, explosive attacks, rocket fire, and directing terrorist activities in West Bank.

From left: Islamic Jihad commanders that the IDF said it killed in Gaza, May 9, 2023: Khalil Bahtini, Tareq Izz ed-Din, and Jihad Ghanem (IDF Spokesman)

Ghanem, 62, who lived in Rafah, was a key liaison for transferring money and weapons between Islamic Jihad and Hamas, the IDF said.

It said Ghanem was one of the “most senior members of the organization,” and had previously served in several key positions, including as head of Islamic Jihad’s Southern Gaza Brigade and Secretary of the Military Council.

Izz ed-Din, 49, was also involved in moving money between Gaza and the West Bank for terror activities, the IDF said. Originally from the West Bank town of Arraba, Azaldin had been previously jailed in Israel for involvement in suicide bombings in the early 2000s.

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