Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant hailed on Tuesday the killing of three Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists in the Gaza Strip and warned of a possible protracted campaign.
“Overnight, the IDF and ISA [Shin Bet] conducted a precise operation against the leadership of the Islamic Jihad terror organization in Gaza. The State of Israel seeks stability in the region, while the Iranian-funded terror group launches attacks. At the same time, it harms its own people—the Palestinian residents of Gaza,” said Gallant.
“The State of Israel will not tolerate rocket fire, terrorism or any threats to the sovereignty of our state and security of our citizens. We must be prepared for every scenario—the IDF and security forces are prepared to defend every front,” he added.
In a phone conversation with the mayors of southern Israeli communities, Gallant warned of a possible prolonged conflagration.
“The defense establishment will provide whatever assistance is required. I instructed professionals to be in continuous contact with you and take care of everything required for the needs of the residents. You have our full support,” Gallant told the officials.
Israel was making preparations for rocket attacks and the threat of a wider conflict following the air force’s targeted killing of the three Islamic Jihad leaders in strikes across the Gaza Strip in the morning.
The IDF identified the targets of the operation as Khalil Bahitini, PIJ’s commander in northern Gaza; Jahed Ahnam, a senior member of the terror group’s “military” council; and Tarek Azaldin, who directed its activities in Judea and Samaria.
Israel also struck 10 sites belonging to PIJ, including weapons manufacturing facilities and depots.
The military dubbed the campaign “Operation Shield and Arrow.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Gallant held a situational assessment with senior security and military leaders and the Security Cabinet was set to meet on Tuesday evening.
The IDF Home Front Command issued guidance for southern Israel that is in effect until at least Thursday evening.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid extended his backing for the IDF operation.
“The terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip were made aware this morning that the intelligence community and security forces are monitoring their every move, and that the account with them will be closed,” said Lapid.
“A firm Israeli response at a time and place that is good for us is the way to deal with terror from Gaza. We will back all operational activity to protect the residents of the South,” he added.
Last Wednesday, Israel and Palestinian terror groups in Gaza agreed to end 24 hours of fighting during which more than 100 rockets were fired towards the Jewish state.
Both Hamas and PIJ took responsibility for the rocket fire, the largest such barrage since August 5-7 of last year.