Islamic Jihad movement: Israeli army kills three Palestinian members in early morning bombing


Three senior members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement were killed by the Israeli army in an early Tuesday morning bombing in which explosions ripped through Gaza under ‘Operation Shield and Arrow’, The Times of Israel reported.
The Israeli army began hitting targets in the Strip just after 2 am in what appeared to be a coordinated surprise attack on the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement’s senior leaders. Prior to the operation, Israeli residents of areas within 40 kilometres (25 miles) of Gaza were instructed to enter or stay near bomb shelters amid fears of retaliatory attacks, as raids continued to thunder across the Strip.
According to The Times of Israel, previous strikes on Islamic Jihad leaders have sparked barrages of rockets on Israeli civilians and intense battles with Israeli troops, some lasting several days.
As per the health ministry of the Hamas-controlled territory, at least nine people were killed in the bombing runs. According to reports, some of the casualties were said to be the wives of the commanders and their children.
The Israeli army said it had assassinated Khalil Bahitini, who commands Islamic Jihad in northern Gaza, Jahed Ahnam, a top official in the group’s military council, and Tarek Azaldin, who it said directs Islamic Jihad terror activities in the West Bank from a base in Gaza, according to The Times of Israel.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement confirmed that the three were among the dead.
According to the Israeli army, Bahitini was the group’s “senior operational officer,” with close contacts to Islamic Jihad’s senior political leadership. He took over the vaunted position after its previous commander was killed in a strike last year.
“Bahitini was entrusted with approving and carrying out all terrorist activities from northern Gaza as well as, planning and directing terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians and planned shooting at Israel in the immediate future,” the army said.
The Israeli army said Ahnam was a key link for transferring money and weapons between Islamic Jihad and Hamas and Azaldin was involved in moving money between Gaza and the West Bank for terror activities.
According to witnesses in the attack launched on earlier Tuesday morning, an explosion hit the top floor of an apartment building in Gaza City and a house in the southern city of Rafah. Palestinian media said several people were injured. There was no immediate confirmation from health authorities.