Iran on Tuesday condemned Israel for its targeted killing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad senior commander Baha Abu al-Ata and described Israeli retaliatory strikes to rocket fire from the Gaza Strip as a “terrorist attack” requiring criminal prosecution.
Israel said al-Ata was the “prime instigator” of rocket attacks and other terrorism from Gaza over the past year.
In a statement, the Iranian foreign ministry “underlined the need to prosecute and punish the occupiers in international courts as war criminals” and “condemned the Israeli regime’s terrorist attack on Gaza Strip and the assassination of an Islamic Jihad commander.”
“Unfortunately, in light of support for this ruthless and child-killing regime, the crimes against and assassinations of Palestinian people and fighters have continued inside and outside the occupied territories,” ministry spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said.
Iran is a primary backer of PIJ, which declared Tuesday that it was preparing for war with Israel. Over the course of the day, the terrorist group launched more than 190 rockets into Israeli territory from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
The Iranians also “called on regional and international organizations and communities to fulfill their human and legal responsibility to stop the terrorist acts of the occupiers and protect the defenseless and oppressed people of Palestine.”
Israeli forces have targeted PIJ infrastructure throughout Gaza, killing 10, including al-Ata and his wife.
PIJ’s military wing said five of the dead were its members.
A spokesman for the al-Quds Brigades, the PIJ’s military wing, warned of further rocket fire from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday evening, saying Israel will not determine how the current round of fighting in the enclave ends.
“We hold the enemy fully responsible for the consequences of its stupid decision to assassinate the leadership of the resistance,” Abu Hamza said. “The coming hours will add a new headline to the record of defeats of the enemy’s rash prime minister, who has only brought the Zionists destruction and war.”
Abu Hamza continued: “We tell the enemy: Perhaps you succeeded in starting this aggression against our people and resistance, but you will not be able to determine when it ends.”
“The coming hours will record a victory for our people. While you started the battle, you will not be able know when it will end,” he said. “We send a message to the Zionist settlers to not listen to their dumb leadership. The decision is now in the hands of the Al-Quds Brigades and the Palestinian resistance.”