The Israeli announcement said its air force had “targeted a terrorist squad that was identified moments before firing rockets at Israel from the northern Gaza Strip. A hit was confirmed, thwarting the rocket fire attempt. The aforementioned squad is responsible for the firing of rockets at Israel in the past number of days.”
About a dozen rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza in the past week. None caused injury or damage.
Palestinian security forces said the men hit on Friday were Salafists, a broad term for Islamists inspired by Al Qaeda who are challenging the rule of Hamas in Gaza. They accuse Hamas of being both collaborationist with Israel and insufficiently pious.
Israeli military sources later identified the killed man as Muaman Abu-daf and called him a “senior operative in the global jihad terror movement,” accusing him of involvement in a number of rocket attacks on Israel as well as having placed explosive devices near the barrier with Gaza aimed at patrolling Israeli forces. They also said he had been involved in a thwarted terror attack on the Egyptian-Israeli border this week.
Hamas, which rejects Israel’s existence though follows a more pragmatic Islamist approach than the Salafists, has been trying to stop rocket fire into Israel by the more radical groups.
On Tuesday, Israeli forces killed another Salafist and wounded 11 others in two attacks on a motorcycle and private vehicle in northern Gaza.
Three years ago, Israel mounted a major invasion of Gaza that lasted three weeks and killed some 1,300 people. In recent days, Israeli military commanders have been quoted as saying that another such invasion might be necessary if rocket fire could not be contained.
(www.nytimes.com / 30.12.2011)