In a series of tweets yesterday, a jihadist group calling itself the Yahya Ayyash Brigades claimed responsibility for a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip on Jan. 13 around the time of the funeral of former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon.
According to the group, whose tweets were shared by jihadists such as Sirajuddin Zurayqat, an official in the al Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades, fighters from the Yahya Ayyash Brigades launched three rockets toward the site of Sharon’s funeral. At the time, Israeli media reports said only two rockets were fired.
“The gathering of the Jews dispersed after the targeting of Sharon’s funeral, and Allah plunged fear in their hears, and all praise and gratitude are due to Allah,” the group declared, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group. Israeli police said the rockets exploded approximately six miles away from funeral, the Associated Press reported.
In its sixth tweet, the group urged people in “Palestine, Lebanon, and Sinai to relentlessly pursue the Jewish criminals, the allies of the Safavid Magians.”
Yahya Ayyash, for whom the group is named, was Hamas’ top bombmaker before his death as a result of a bomb-laden cellphone in January 1996. According to the IDF, Ayyash, also known as The Engineer, “personally built the bombs used in a number of Hamas suicide attacks which resulted in 439 casualties.”
In recent weeks there has been an uptick in the number of rockets and mortars fired toward Israel from Gaza. Overnight, five rockets headed toward the city of Ashkelon were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. In response to the rocket fire, the Israeli Air Force struck a number of terror sites in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, the IDF announced.
Today, a senior Israel military official said Hamas “can and must do more” to stop rocket fire from Gaza, Reuters reported.