Palestinian Islamic Jihad: This means war

Hamas and the Palestinian Authority also condemned the assassination of their rivals’ top terror leader.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Secretary-General Ziad al Nakhaleh, based in Lebanon, said Tuesday in response to the assassination of one of its top terrorist leaders that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has “crossed all red lines.”

“We are going to war,” Nakhaleh said.

Israel eliminated overnight the leader of PIJ’s armed wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, in his Gaza City home, along with his wife.

Baha Abu Al-Ata was responsible for dozens of serious terror attacks against Israel over many years, and has reportedly been at the top of Israel’s ‘hit list’ for years. In a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was a “ticking time bomb.”

Beirut-based political commentator Marwa Osman quoted a statement by the Al-Quds Brigades vowing a harsh response as well.

“Retaliation to the assassination of martyr Abu Al Ata will have no limits and will be equal to the enemy’s crime,” the Iranian proxy terror group said. “We announce highest readiness in the ranks of our fighters and units.”

Other local Arab reaction was quick to follow. Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and is a rival of the PIJ, still condemned the assassination, saying that it “will not pass without punishment.” Senior negotiator Saeb Erekat of the Palestinian Authority, which is even less enamored of the Iranian proxy in Gaza, called it a “crime,” according to PA news agency Wafa.

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At about the same time as Al Ata was being targeted, the PIJ also reported that ”the Zionist criminal enemy” had struck a house in Damascus belonging to one of its political leaders, Akram Al-Ajouri. His son and a bodyguard were reportedly killed and several others injured. Pictures of the house in Syrian media showed a two-story building on fire and debris all over the street outside.

Syrian authorities announced that its air defenses had fired at a “hostile target” during the attack. The IDF has not issued a comment in response.

Dozens of rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip at southern and central Israel since early Tuesday morning in reaction to the targeted killing. In reaction, the Coordinator of Government activities in the Territories closed the two crossings into the Gaza Strip, stopping all deliveries into and out of the coastal enclave.

In addition, the IDF reported later Tuesday morning that one of its aircraft had struck two PIJ terrorists from a rocket-launching unit who posed “an immediate threat.” The message stated that “a hit was identified.”