The Israeli Air Force blasted several Islamic Jihad targets in Syria and the Gaza Strip late Sunday and early Monday after the terrorist organization fired dozens of rockets into Israel.
The Israelis later killed one terrorist who attempted to plant explosives along the fence with Gaza, the military said in a statement. They then dragged his body into Israel with a bulldozer. The IDF hit what they call “terror targets,” and a “hub of Islamic Jihad activity in Syria,” which included a weapons research and development hub, where rocket fuel was developed, as well as training facilities near Damascus.
During the Damascus strikes, two members of Islamic Jihad (IJ) were killed at their compound outside of Damascus, the IJ announced on Twitter. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the rocket fire in a statement and said it was in response to the deaths of its militants in Syria.
“We confirm that we are ready to confront any aggression and let the occupation know that if it continues, we will respond with full force and competence,” Islamic Jihad said in the statement. They added that the airstrike was “proof of the Israeli failure to deal with Islamic Jihad fighters in the battlefield.”
Syrian state-run media reported, through a source in the military, that Syrian air defense artillery had shot down the majority of the missiles. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a humanitarian group that is based in the UK and monitors the war in Syria, said that four members of Iran-backed proxy militias were also killed in the Israeli airstrikes.
During a 24-hour period on Sunday and early Monday Islamic Jihad unleashed around 40 rockets at Israel from Gaza. One of the rockets hit a children’s playground in the southern Israeli town of Sderot. However, the military said there were no injuries. On Monday, the IDF’s Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted and destroyed 12 of the 14 missiles fired at them.
The Israelis responded quickly and severely in Gaza, with fighter jets targeting dozens of IJ targets including underground weapons storage and training compounds, the IDF’s statement said.
Naftali Bennett, Israel’s defense minister said Monday that the military had “eliminated” six militants during the latest retaliation airstrikes.
“We are preparing a plan to fundamentally change the situation in the Gaza Strip,” he said on Monday. “I really understand the situation of the people of the South. They deserve peace and security,” he added. While he didn’t provide further details, many fear the Israelis are preparing for an invasion of Gaza with ground troops.
This all began on Sunday when the Israelis said that their troops overwatching the border killed a terrorist who was trying to plant explosives along the border fence that separates Israel and Gaza.
A video that went viral on social media showed an Israeli bulldozer dragging the body of the killed man away which inflamed the Palestinians. Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum said that the terrorist was unarmed.
“Desecrating the dead body of a young unarmed man on the borders of the Gaza Strip in front of the cameras of the whole world is a heinous crime that adds to the occupation’s list of crimes against our Palestinian people,” said Barhoum.
However, the IDF said it removed the body in a way that prevented further danger to their military forces. They are reportedly keeping the bodies of killed terrorists as Hamas and IJ are doing the same to Israeli soldiers and have held some bodies since 2014. But the Palestinians took great exception to that and vowed revenge.
Government officials closed the schools in the region which kept nearly 65,000 children, at home on Monday. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Monday morning that a “large-scale military operation” in Gaza may well be forced upon Israel.
“War is a last resort, but there may be no escape from it. We’ve prepared a radically different campaign,” he said in a statement to Radio Jerusalem.