IAF airstrike kills Gaza terror chief

IAF airstrike kills Gaza terror chief

At least two dead in targeted assassination in northern Gaza Strip, which IDF says thwarted imminent rocket attack into Israel

Illustrative photo of IAF F-15s flying in formation. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of IAF F-15s flying in formation. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

The Israeli Air Force launched an airstrike in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun early Wednesday morning, killing at least one man, said by Israel to be a terrorist.

According to the IDF, Israel targeted and hit Ahmad Zaanin, 21, a member of a Gaza-based Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s military wing, responsible for recent rocket fire against Israel. It said he fired the rockets that targeted Israel after the funeral for prime minister Ariel Sharon ended last Monday.

Reports from the Gaza Strip said a second Palestinian was killed in addition to the PFLP member. Relatives and ambulance services identified Zaanin as commander in the PFLP, and the second man was identified as belonging to the Islamic Jihad group.The Palestinian Ma’an News Agency identified the second man as Mahmoud Yousef Zaanin, 23.

The men, said to be cousins, were reportedly sitting in a parked car when it was hit by an IAF missile, residents told Reuters. Unconfirmed photos which claimed to show Ahmad Zaanin circulated on social media shortly after the airstrike.

The IDF said that the airstrike prevented an imminent rocket attack against Israel.

“Amongst [Zaanin’s] most recent attack was launching of rockets during the former Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon’s funeral,” the IDF said in a statement. “Since 2009 Za’anin, with the cooperation of other terror bodies in the Gaza Strip, has endorsed numerous attacks such as sniping attacks and detonating explosive devices against IDF soldiers.”

“In his earlier days Za’anin was affiliated with the Islamic Palestinian Jihad, during which the terrorist operated towards the execution of terror attacks, most of which were rocket attacks, against Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers,” the IDF said.

The airstrike came amid increased violence along the Israel-Gaza border. Since January 1, several dozen rockets fired from the Gaza Strip have exploded in Israel, the first escalation of its kind since the ceasefire that ended November 2012’s Operation Pillar of Defense.

Earlier this week, three rockets from the Gaza Strip were fired at the western Negev shortly before midnight on Monday.

There were no injuries or damage reported, as the explosions occurred in open area in the Eshkol Regional Council.

Earlier Monday evening, two Grad rockets were apparently fired at the Red Sea resort town of Eilat, striking an open area close to the city.

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