Israeli forces have killed a top Islamic Jihad commander in an air raid on his home in Gaza City, threatening to unleash another devastating round of violence.
The Palestinian group announced the death in a statement on Tuesday after Israel confirmed it had hit Bahaa Abu al-Ata, 42, in an attack.
Shortly after the attack, salvos of rockets were launched from Gaza into Israel, with sirens wailing across central and southern parts of the country.
Meanwhile, Islamic Jihad said an attack was carried out on the home of Akram al-Ajouri, one of its officials, in the Syrian capital, Damascus, killing al-Ajouri’s son and at least one other person.
Here are all the latest updates:
Tuesday, November 12
Netanyahu slammed by Arab MKs
Arab members of the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of escalating the situation in the Gaza Strip for his political survival.
“The man who lost consecutive elections will leave the ground burned in a desperate attempt to stay in his position,” MK Ayman Odeh said on Twitter.
“For a decade, he [Netanyahu] worked every morning to prolong the occupation and undermine prospects for peace and this is what he did today as well.”
MK Walid Taha warned Netanyahu’s policy of escalation would drag the region into a “real disaster”.
“What is happening threatens the security of the entire region and the lives of millions of innocent people in Gaza Strip,” he said.”Israel is in danger as a result of Netanyahu’s aggressive policies.”
Netanyahu says fighting ‘could take time’
Speaking to reporters at military headquarters, Prime Minister Netanyahu said fighting with Palestinian groups could prove protracted.
“Israel is not interested in escalation, but we will do everything required to protect ourselves,” said Netanyahu, who heads a caretaker government following two inconclusive elections.
“This could take time. What is needed is stamina and cool-headedness,” added Netanyahu, who accused al-Ata of “plotting additional attacks”, without elaborating.
Analyst: Further escalation ‘depends on behaviour of Hamas’
Mulhaimar Abu Sadaa, a professor at Al Azhar University in Gaza, says the besieged city might witness “further escalation” after al-Ata’s killing by Israeli forces, which prompted retaliatory rocket fire.
“We are going to witness further escalation in the coming hours and days, but it all depends on the behaviour of Hamas,” he told Al Jazeera, referring to the group administering the besieged enclave.
“If Hamas is going to join the Islamic Jihad we are going to approach further escalation with Israel, but if Hamas is able to contain the Islamic Jihad with the help of the Egyptians the situation might be contained or brought under control within two-three days.”
EU urges ‘complete de-escalation’
The European Union called for a “rapid and complete de-escalation”.
“The firing of rockets on civilian populations is totally unacceptable and must immediately stop,” the bloc’s diplomatic service said in a statement.
“A rapid and complete de-escalation is now necessary to safeguard the lives and security of Palestinian and Israeli civilians.”
Palestinian man killed, 12 others wounded, in fresh Israeli air raid
Ashraf al-Qidra, the spokesman for Gaza’s Health Ministry, told Al Jazeera that one Palestinian has been killed in an Israeli air raid that targeted the northern Gaza Strip.
Mohammed Attiyah Musleh Hammouda, 20, was killed in the attack, and 12 others were wounded, according to al-Qidra.
Islamic Jihad leader: Israel to pay hefty price
“[Israeli PM Benjamin] Netanyahu will pay a hefty price for the assassination of Abu al-Ata … His troops and settlers will pay a hefty price for these crimes,” Khaled al-Batsh, an Islamic Jihad leader, told crowds in Gaza.
“Today, we tell our people, the only option available is to face [this aggression],” he said in televised remarks.
Hamas spokesman decries Israeli attack on Gaza
Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said the Israeli attacks and the assassination of al-Ata is a “continuation of Israeli aggression towards the Palestinian people”.
“Our people are being targeted all over, inside and outside Palestine,” he told Al Jazeera Arabic from Gaza.
“The attack reflects Israel’s unsuccessful tactics … Assassinations cannot and will not put an end to resistance, and are not enough to stop Palestinians from supporting the cause,” Qassem said.
“After every attack, the will of the resistance grows and becomes more persistent,” he added.
Hamas is coordinating with all of the Palestinian factions in Gaza to respond to the “occupation’s crimes”, Qassem said.
Palestinian government calls on international community to intervene
“We call on the international community to intervene immediately to stop Israeli aggression,” Palestinian government spokesman Ibrahim Melhem told Al Jazeera Arabic from the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.
“The president is in contact with the relevant parties to ensure the safety of our people in the Gaza Strip.”
Israeli Iron Dome System intercepts missiles
Israel’s Iron Dome System intercepted missiles, which were fired from the Gaza Strip in response al-Ata’s killing
The rockets, according to Israeli local media, were intercepted over the southern city of Ashdod.
WATCH: Israel's Iron Dome in action as it intercepts rockets above central Israel.
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) November 12, 2019
Widespread anger in Gaza
Al Jazeera Arabic’s Wael al-Dahdouh, reporting from Gaza, said there is a “high degree of anger” in the city.
“The overnight operation reminded people in Gaza of previous assassinations that targeted Palestinian activists and high-level commanders from Palestinian resistance groups in their homes,” he said.
“Anger is also among the various Palestinians groups in Gaza … because an attack on the Islamic Jihad means potential attacks on other groups as well.”
Netanyahu to deliver statement
Prime Minister Netanyahu and his chief of staff, Aviv Kochavi, are set to deliver statements to media at 08:30 GMT.
Damascus raid ‘carried out with several missiles’
Syrian state media said the Israeli attack in Damascus had been carried out using several missiles, one of which was shot down over the nearby suburb of Daraya.
At the scene of the attack, a Reuters news agency witness said the top floor of a two-storey building had been completely scorched.
Syrian state media said two were killed, including the son al-Ajouri, and six people were wounded in the attack on the home in al-Mazzeh, a western district of the capital where several foreign embassies are located.
Israel ‘preparing for number of days of fighting’
Rockets struck the south of Israel and warning sirens wailed in Tel Aviv, although there were no immediate reports of hits on the seaside city.
“We are preparing for a number of days of fighting,” Israeli army spokesman Jonathan Conricus said.
The army ordered “non-essential” workers in Tel Aviv and central Israel to stay at home and schools and universities to close while banning public gatherings.
Dozens of rockets fired from Gaza into Israel in the past hour, including long-range rockets into Tel Aviv. Hundreds of thousands in bomb shelters. Most rockets intercepted by Iron Dome Missile Defense. Minor injuries reported. pic.twitter.com/Ma0ttd95mY
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) November 12, 2019
Bahaa Abu al-Ata’s funeral held in Gaza
Islamic Jihad: Al-Ata’s wife also killed in raid
Islamic Jihad said al-Ata’s wife, Asmaa, was also killed in the Israeli raid that ripped through the building in Gaza City’s Shejaiya district before dawn.
The children of the couple, Saleem, Mohammad, Liyan and Fatima as well as their neighbour Hanan Hillis, were moved to Shifa Hospital, according to Palestinian news agency Wafa.
In a statement, Islamic Jihad said: “Our inevitable retaliation will rock the Zionist entity,” it said, referring to Israel, adding that it was on “maximum alert.”
(SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS)