Published: Thu, November 14, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Tehran slams Israeli assassination of Islamic Jihad commander

Tehran slams Israeli assassination of Islamic Jihad commander

Israel has reportedly threatened Palestinian Islamic Jihad that it will assassinate the group's leader Ziad al-Nakhla if the rocket fire continues, an Arab media report claimed on Wednesday.

Shortly before midnight sirens were triggered in Rehovot, Ashdod, Gedera, Yavne and the surrounding communities, sending hundreds of thousands of Israelis rushing to bomb shelters.

An Islamic Jihad official told the Reuters news agency that Israel had agreed to the faction's demand that it cease targeted killings of militants and shooting of Gaza border protesters.

The Islamic Jihad militant group early Thursday announced a cease-fire with Israel, ending two days of heavy fighting that left at least 32 Palestinians dead.

Israel killed senior Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu al-Ata and his wife Asma in a targeted strike early on Tuesday, prompting barrages of tit-for-tat rocket fire and air strikes.

A total of 23 Palestinians have been killed so far, including Ata and his wife, according to Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry. Should a truce not be agreed, he said, "the (Islamic Jihad armed wing) Jerusalem Brigades is able to manage the battle, and for a long time".

Schools in the blockaded Gaza Strip, an enclave of two million people, have been closed since Tuesday. Islamic Jihad fired some 400 rockets toward Israel, while Israel responded with scores of airstrikes.

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He also said the United Nations was trying to urgently de-escalate the situation.

The Israeli army confirmed the airstrike afterwards, saying it had taken place against Gaza's Shejaiya area.

Despite their enmity, Hamas and Israel have managed to defuse previous confrontations and avoid a full-scale conflict for the past five years, following three wars from 2008-2014.

Islamic Jihad spokesman Musab al-Barayem said the group was not interested in mediation for now as it retaliated over the killing of one of its commanders.

"Now the fight is just against the Islamic Jihad, not against Hamas", he said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 24 people in Gaza, including civilians and children have been killed by Israeli strikes.

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