The Israeli Air Force targeted a terror cell this evening that was preparing to launch rockets from Gaza towards Israel. Officials in the Gaza Strip said two Palestinians were killed and two others wounded in the strike, AFP reported.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) identified one of those killed, Musab Musa Za’anin, as a member of the group’s military wing, the al Quds Brigades. The second Palestinian killed in the strike was identified as Sharif Nasser, who was claimed by the Mujahideen Brigades as one of its fighters.
Tonight’s strike comes just a few days after the IAF struck a rocket launch site in Gaza on Feb. 28. Israeli officials have expressed concern in recent weeks about escalating violence emanating from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. “The situation is stable, but we are seeing a creeping escalation,” one military official told the Jerusalem Post in late February.
While the recent upsurge in rocket attacks has been carried out by groups other than Hamas, Israeli military officials consistently remark that Hamas is not doing enough to stem the rocket attacks. Hamas “can and must do more” to stop rocket fire from Gaza, one official told Reuters in mid-January. In early February, Hamas pulled back some of its forces responsible for preventing rocket attacks. The forces were eventually redeployed, but sporadic rocket and mortar fire has continued since.
The firing of rockets and mortars toward Israel from Gaza increased in January and February. In response to the rocket fire, the IAF has struck a number of terror sites in Gaza, as well as terrorists themselves. On Jan. 19, the IAF targeted Ahmad Saad, an operative in Palestinian Islamic Jihad, who was allegedly behind the firing of five rockets toward Ashkelon on Jan. 16, among other attacks. On Jan. 22, the IAF targeted and killed Ahmed Za’anin, another Palestinian terror operative in the Gaza Strip.
More recently, on Feb. 9, the IAF targeted Abdallah Kharti, a member of the Popular Resistance Committees who was said to have worked with the Sinai-based jihadist group Ansar Jerusalem (Ansar Bayt al Maqdis).