Though smaller than Hamas, the Gaza-based terror group Palestinian Islamic Jihad has been even more violent, sometimes launching attacks on Israel when Hamas, still licking its wounds from previous exchanges with the IDF, has refrained from doing so. Recently Adnan Khader, an imprisoned PIJ terrorist, died after conducting an 87-day hunger strike. While Israel had made endless efforts to convince him to allow Israeli doctors to feed him intravenously, Khader refused. He wanted to die as a “martyr,” and he got his wish. At that point, however, Israel was attacked by the PIJ, Hamas, Fatah, Hezbollah, and the PA for “killing Khader” even though Israel had tried its best to keep him alive.
To express its rage, Palestinian Islamic Jihad has fired hundreds of rockets and a mortar into southern Israel. That enormous attack, though it has not led to many deaths, has forced many Israelis to stay close to bomb shelters, disrupting their lives. The IDF decided it was time to cut off the head of the snake, by targeting three of the PIJ’s top commanders in their hideouts in Gaza. This led to the present escalation. “Israel launches Operation Shield and Arrow in Gaza with strike on PIJ leaders,” Israel Hayom, May 9, 2023:
Israeli aircraft conducted strikes on Palestinian Islamic Jihad targets in the Gaza Strip early Tuesday [May 9], the Israeli military said, and the group said three senior commanders and members of their families were killed in the attacks.
Witnesses said an explosion hit the top floor of an apartment building in Gaza City and a house in the southern city of Rafah. Airstrikes continued in the early hours, targeting militant training sites.
Think of what good intelligence the IDF must have if it knew exactly where three PIJ commanders – who no doubt kept their whereabouts secret, and likely moved about a lot, as Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah, is said to do every night – lived in Gaza City and Rafah. And what precision in the IDF attacks, when only the three commanders, and their immediate families, were killed. The Israelis believe a total of nine people were killed as of Tuesday morning, May 9; the Palestinian Health Minister said 12 people were killed. The PIJ said initially that the dead consisted of the three commanders, their wives, and four children, but no one else. No doubt they will increase the number of deaths they attribute to Israel and possibly add a few more “innocent civilians” to the total. After all, who can check on the figures offered by the PIJ?
The Israeli army said the aerial bombings were directed at the residences of three senior commanders of the Iranian-backed group. It added the three were responsible for recent rocket fire toward Israel. The bombings, codenamed “Operation Shield and Arrow,” targeted Khalil Bahtini, the PIJ commander for the northern Gaza Strip; Tareq Izzeldeen, the group’s intermediary between its Gaza and West Bank members; and Jehad Ghanam, the secretary of the Islamic Jihad’s military council.
The airstrikes come as tension boils between Israel and terrorists in the Gaza Strip. The tension is linked to increasing violence in the West Bank, where Israel has been conducting near-daily raids for months to detain Palestinians suspected of planning or carrying out attacks on Israelis. In anticipation of Palestinian rocket attacks in response to the airstrikes, the Israeli military advised residents of communities within 25 miles (40 kilometers) of Gaza to stay close to designated bomb shelters.
After that initial attack, the IDF struck again. The Israeli military posted on Twitter, a few hours after the attacks on the three PIJ commanders, that “an aircraft struck a terrorist squad carrying anti-tank guided missiles in the city of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza.”
Last week, Gaza terrorists fired several salvos of rockets toward southern Israel, and the Israeli military responded with airstrikes following the death of a hunger-striking senior member of the PIJ in Israeli custody. The exchange of fire ended with a fragile cease-fire mediated by Egypt, the United Nations, and Qatar.
The airstrikes are similar to ones in 2022 in which Israel bombed places housing commanders of the PIJ group, setting off a three-day blitz that saw the group losing its two top commanders and other dozens of terrorists.
Israel has now been denounced, as it knew would happen, by several Arab states for its killings of “innocent civilians.” Any minute now we can expect that Francesca Albanese, the antisemite who is the UN’s Special Rapporteur for Palestinian occupied territories, Rashida Tlaib (D-Gaza City), and Roger Waters will issue their own denunciations of the “colonial-settler and apartheid state” or its latest “atrocity.” Some may wonder just how “innocent” the wives of PIJ commanders can be said to be. The four children who died are, of course, another matter. Israel makes great efforts to limit civilian casualties, whenever it can. But the IDF cannot be expected to refrain from attacking the leaders of terrorist groups that wage continual war on the Jewish state just because, in such an attack, there might be a handful of innocents among the casualties. Otherwise, Israel would be permanently barred from striking back at these senior terrorists whose entire reason for being is to kill Israeli civilians. When terrorists who, despite knowing full well that they are targets, nonetheless insist on endangering the lives of their children by keeping them close, it is they who bear the responsibility for their deaths.
Now the PIJ has issued bloodcurdling threats against Israel, promising to “avenge” the deaths of its three senior members. But the killing of those PIJ commanders required that the IDF know exactly where they lived in Gaza City and Rafah, not just the buildings they lived in, but in which apartments. Surely this kind of information could come only from Mossad agents inside Gaza. Even more worrisome for the PIJ was the subsequent attack, just a few hours after the attack on its commanders, on a car carrying two more PIJ terrorists and anti-tank missiles as they drove in Khan Yunis. There must be many PIJ members wondering just how the IDF knew exactly what was in that particular car, and where it was traveling. And despite their hollow bravado, as they issue their threats, they are afraid, very afraid.
Sourced from HUGH FITZGERALD
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