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Israel braces for rocket fire after PIJ terrorist leaders in Gaza killed

Bomb shelters are prepared in the south and center of the country.

An Iron Dome battery in Ashkelon fires interceptor missiles at rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, Aug. 7, 2022. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
An Iron Dome battery in Ashkelon fires interceptor missiles at rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, Aug. 7, 2022. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

Israel on Wednesday continued making preparations for rocket attacks and the threat of a wider conflict following the air force’s targeted killing of three top Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders in strikes across the Gaza Strip.

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 directs its activities in Judea and Samaria.

Israel also struck 10 sites in Gaza belonging to PIJ, including weapons manufacturing facilities and depots.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant held a situational assessment with senior security and military leaders and the Security Cabinet convened on Tuesday evening.

The IDF Home Front Command issued guidance for southern Israel that is in effect until at least Thursday.

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 include 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.

The Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council announced that dozens of families had left for host towns in areas of Israel away from the Gaza border with more than 200 families expected to temporarily relocate.

“The council is prepared to assist all residents who have special needs, including mobility problems and more,” the council said.

Gallant approved the call-up of a limited number of reserve troops for “Operation Shield and Arrow.”

“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,” said Gallant on Tuesday afternoon.

“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 Otzma Yehudit Party led by National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir announced that it was ending its boycott of Knesset votes in light of the security situation.

“Due to our position being accepted and the move from containment to attacking via targeted assassinations of senior Islamic Jihad [members], we will return to vote with the government. The hope is that the offensive continues over time,” the party said.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen announced on Tuesday that he will be returning early from his trip to India due to the escalating security situation.

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