jpost.com and AP , THE JERUSALEM POST Dec. 17, 2007
Ten Islamic Jihad operatives were killed overnight Monday and early Tuesday as the IDF stepped up its operations against terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
In the latest reported attack - yet to be confirmed by the army - soldiers killed a senior commander in the group's Al-Quds Brigades during a gunfight in Kabatiya early Tuesday morning. Tarek Abu-Ra'ali was the group's commander in Jenin.
Also Tuesday morning, the air force carried out an airstrike in the northern Gaza Strip, killing three Islamic Jihad members, Palestinians reported.
Overnight Monday, five of the group's members were killed in two separate IAF strikes, sparking a barrage of 12 Kassam rockets and mortar shells into the western Negev. The attacks came several hours after the alert level in Gaza belt towns was raised in fear of an escalation in attacks in retaliation for the IDF operations. No Israelis were wounded in the attacks.
In an e-mail sent to reporters, Islamic Jihad said it would retaliate for its losses with suicide attacks inside Israel, threatening "a wave of martyrdom operations."
Monday night's airstrikes came hours after Defense Minister Ehud Barak promised residents of Sderot that the IDF would step up its operations to stop Kassam rocket attacks. IAF aircraft blasted two cars in Gaza City after nightfall, killing the five Islamic Jihad terrorists, including a senior commander and a master rocket maker.
The target of the first airstrike was Majed Harazin, a senior Islamic Jihad terrorist in charge of rocket squads that have been firing at Israel, the IDF said.
Islamic Jihad spokesman Khaled el-Batch confirmed that Harazin was killed in the first attack. He was a top Islamic Jihad commander for both the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinians said, and he rarely traveled in vehicles for fear of an Israeli air strike. He was on Israel's wanted list for nine years, they said.
Another terrorist was killed and a third critically wounded in the air strike, hospital officials said.
Gunfire erupted throughout Gaza after Harazin's death was announced by Islamic Jihad over loudspeakers from mosques. An Islamic Jihad official called his death a serious blow to the group.
Islamic Jihad supporters gathered around the morgue and pledged revenge. "The blood of our comrades will be the fuel for the rockets that will bring death and destruction to the Zionists," another Islamic Jihad spokesman, Abu Hamza, told The Associated Press.
In the second airstrike, shortly before midnight, the military said its aircraft targeted a cell that was about to fire rockets at Israel. Undercover agents took part in the attack, the military said, and the leader of the cell was killed. Two other terrorists also died.
Both Israel and Islamic Jihad identified the leader as Karim al-Dahdouh, known as a master rocket maker.
Hamas radio said the car was filled with explosives and warned people to stay away, but people crowded around the burning vehicle. Witnesses said the initial blast was followed by smaller explosions after the car was hit while slowing down near a mosque.
The Islamic Jihad terror group is responsible for most of the Kassam attacks on Israel and was behind the rocket bombardment on Sunday during which a two-year-old infant was wounded in Kibbutz Zikim.
Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.
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