Israel targets Gaza terror operative linked to Sinai-based Ansar Jerusalem

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) today targeted Gaza-based terror operative Abdallah Kharti. According to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Kharti is a “key Popular Resistance Committees operative.”

Kharti, born in 1985, is affiliated with “global Jihad,” and has been “involved in numerous incidents of rocket fire towards Israel,” the IDF’s statement said. According to press reports, Kharti was critically wounded in today’s strike, which took place in Deir al Balah in the central Gaza Strip.

Besides serving as an operative in the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), Kharti helped the Sinai-based jihadist group Ansar Jerusalem (Ansar Bayt al Maqdis), Israeli officials said. In October 2012, Israeli intelligence noted that cooperation between Ansar Jerusalem and members of the PRC was occurring.

The al Nasser Salah al Deen Brigades, which have claimed numerous attacks against Israel, are the military wing of the PRC. While the group has been predominantly viewed as another Iran-backed terror group in Gaza, in recent years it has become more aligned with Salafi jihadism. Its statements and videos have increasingly appeared on global jihadist web forums since 2012.

As early as 2006, Israeli officials warned that the leadership of the PRC had “made contacts with Global Jihad sources in North Africa and the Sinai.” Although the group has previously carried out joint operations with Hamas, it has also voiced criticism of Gaza’s rulers. For example, in July 2013, the group issued a statement calling on Hamas to stop its arrests of “mujahideen” in the Gaza Strip. Arresting the “mujahideen” does not serve the resistance against Israel, the statement said.

The firing of rockets and mortars toward Israel from Gaza has increased in recent weeks. According to the IDF, since January at least 33 rockets have been launched from Gaza toward Israel.

In response to the rocket fire, the IAF has struck a number of terror sites in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip as well as terrorists. 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.

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