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IDF strikes PIJ cell in Gaza readying rocket attack

Two terrorists died in the strike, the Hamas Health Ministry in the Strip said.

IDF Artillery Corps units fire at targets in the Gaza Strip, May 17, 2021. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
IDF Artillery Corps units fire at targets in the Gaza Strip, May 17, 2021. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

The Israel Air Force on Tuesday evening attacked a Palestinian Islamic Jihad cell in Gaza that was readying to fire an anti-tank rocket across the border.

The terror cell was operating near the city of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.

The Hamas Health Ministry in Gaza reported that two PIJ terrorists were killed by the airstrike.

The air force killed three top PIJ leaders in strikes across Gaza early on Tuesday morning, following a month of intermittent confrontations with terrorists in the Palestinian enclave.

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.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel was prepared for a multi-front conflict against Iran and its terrorist proxies.

“It’s clear that 95% of Israel’s security problems come from Iran,” the prime minister said in a Zoom address to a conference organized by the Israel Defense and Security Forum (IDSF).

“We are dealing with an attempt by Iran to start a multi-front campaign against us. I instructed the IDF and security forces to be prepared for this fight.… If we need to, we will,” he said.

Netanyahu convened an expanded situational assessment session in the early evening, and then a Security Cabinet meeting at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv.

Residents within 40 km. (25 miles) of the Gaza Strip (this includes the cities of Ashkelon, Ashdod and Beersheva) were asked to stay near areas protected from rocket fire. The guidance also includes limiting public gatherings to up to 10 people outdoors and up to 100 people indoors, for educational institutions to hold remote classes, for people to work remotely if their workplace doesn’t have access to a bomb shelter, and closing beaches to the public.

Municipalities in the South and Center of the country announced that they were opening bomb shelters. Cities opening shelters included Herzliya, Ra’anana, Kfar Saba, Rishon Letzion, Yavneh, Bat Yam, Ashkelon and Beersheva.

Hospitals were moving patients to protected areas.

Israel Railways announced the partial suspension of service in the South.

Gallant hailed the killing of the three PIJ leaders and warned of a possible protracted campaign.

“The State of Israel seeks stability in the region, while the Iranian-funded [PIJ] terror group launches attacks. At the same time, it harms its own people—the Palestinian residents of Gaza,” he said.

“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,” Gallant said.

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