Prime Minister Netanyahu: “With every passing day we are striking at more of the terrorist organizations’ capabilities, targeting more senior commanders.”
With Palestinian rocket attacks against Israeli civilians approaching the second week, the Israeli military has stepped up its targeted strikes against high-ranking terror operatives inside Gaza.
Besides destroying the vast network of terror tunnels, weapons depots and rocket launch sites scattered across Gaza, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) is striking at the command structure of the Gaza-based Islamist terror outfits.
Since the latest round of Palestinian rocket offensive began, the IDF has succeeded in taking out dozens of senior operatives belonging to Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and allied terrorist group.
These are the faces of some of the top Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders and terrorists.
They were responsible for the rocket attacks against Israel in the last 72 hours.
They will never plan another terror attack again. pic.twitter.com/in1w63wOpF
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) May 13, 2021
Writing this week in the Long War Journal, Joe Truzman elaborated the IDF’s strategy guiding the ongoing counter-terrorism operation:
The IDF’s campaign called “Guardian of the Walls” has focused on degrading the military capabilities and assets of al-Qassam Brigades and the military wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Saraya al-Quds. In conjunction with the Shin Bet, the IDF has successfully executed numerous targeted killing operations against leaders, commanders and low-level militants of several factions.
The biggest success in this campaign has been the elimination of Bassem Issa, Hamas’s highest-ranking military operative in Gaza. The slain terrorist was the Gaza City chief of the al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing.
The biggest set back for the Hamas-ally Palestinian Islamic Jihad came when a targeted IDF airstrike killed its northern division commander, Hussam Abu Harbeed. The Times of Israel profiled the Abu Harbeed’s long terrorist career:
Abu Harbeed, who commanded the terror group’s northern Gaza division, has led attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians for nearly 15 years, the IDF says. He was also allegedly directly responsible for anti-tank missile fire that lightly wounded an Israeli civilian last week.
— Joe Truzman (@Jtruzmah) May 17, 2021
Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar, and head of al-Qassam Brigades Muhammad Deif have so far evaded IDF strikes. Eliminating these two terrorists was a top priority for the IDF, Israeli military sources say.
Since May 10, the IDF has carried out two strikes aimed at Deif, but the Hamas military chief has so far managed to escape. On Wednesday, the Times of Israel reported IDF’s second operation which failed to take out Daif:
The Israel Defense Forces attempted to kill the head of Hamas’s military wing, Muhammad Deif, at least twice over the past week and a half of fighting, but both times he escaped unscathed, according to the Israeli military.
Throughout the IDF’s ongoing campaign in the Gaza Strip against Hamas, the military has said that one of its primary goals is killing top leaders of the terror group, who have largely gone into hiding to avoid IDF strikes. Deif in particular has been named as a potential target.
The elusive Hamas military wing leader Deif has been on Israel’s most-wanted list for over 25 years for his involvement in the planning and execution of a large number of terror attacks, including many bus bombings in years past. The Israeli military considers Deif to be a skilled field commander.
Before Israel’s two failed attempts this month, Israeli security services tried to kill Deif at least five times over the years. The first such attempt took place in 2001, a second in 2002, costing him his eye, and a third a year later. Another strike was conducted in 2006 in which he was seriously injured, losing both of his legs and one arm.
The targeting of Islamist Hamas’s top brass is in line with the military objectives approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his security cabinet. On Wednesday evening, the Israeli prime minister explained the strategic aims of the operations. “With every passing day we are striking at more of the terrorist organizations’ capabilities, targeting more senior commanders, toppling more terrorist buildings and hitting more weaponry stockpiles,” Netanyahu said.
Despite mounting pressure from Washington and the European countries, Israel prime minister vowed to fulfill those military aims. “I am determined to continue this operation until its objective is achieved: to restore quiet and security to you, citizens of Israel,” he added.
These comments came after President Joe Biden told Prime Minister Netanyahu to cease all military operations against Hamas immediately. The U.S. President expects “a significant de-escalation today,” the White House said in a statement on Wednesday.
Despite White House’s support for Israel’s right to defense itself against Palestinian terrorism, the Biden administration is apparently pushing the Netanyahu’s government to end counter-terrorism operations against Hamas. “Biden has been quietly ramping up pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to end Israel’s bombardment of Hamas targets in Gaza,” the USA Today noted on Wednesday.
The Israeli military seems to be carrying out those instructions. On Thursday morning, the IDF released the details of its overnight operations against the terrorist targets in Gaza:
Overnight, the IDF continued the wave of strikes against Hamas ‘Metro’ tunnel system In the past 24 hours, IDF fighter jets struck dozens of additional underground terror targets as part of the ongoing extensive operation to strike the Hamas ‘Metro’ tunnel system across the Gaza Strip, causing significant damage to Hamas’s underground network. At this time, IDF fighter jets continue to strike underground terror targets. Furthermore, the IDF struck a number of additional terror targets across the Gaza Strip overnight, among them: terror infrastructure used for conducting military operations located in the residence of a company commander of the north Khan Yunis battalion, Ali Abu Zarqa, a Hamas weapons manufacturing facility and a number of above ground and underground rocket launch sites.
In the last 24 hours, our aircraft struck Hamas aerial defense compounds & a large number of Hamas multi-barrel rocket launchers aimed at Israel.
We will continue to operate to ensure the safety of Israeli civilians. pic.twitter.com/c0ewqwFqOZ
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) May 20, 2021
Since May 10, “4070 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip at Israeli territory,” the Israel Defense Forces said on Thursday. So far, estimated 610 stray rockets have landed in Gaza, making Hamas the biggest threat for the Gazans.DONATE
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