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Gaza death toll climbs, tensions rise after Israeli assassination of Islamic Jihad leader

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Tensions are high in Gaza after Israel’s targeted assassination of an Islamic Jihad leader led to intense cross border fire between the territories, resulting in the death of more than 20 people, including children, and the injury of more than 70 others.

The violence began overnight on Monday when Israel launched airstrikes in both Gaza and Syria, targeting senior leaders of the Islamic Jihad group, prompting a barrage of rocket fire from Gaza and concerns that Israel was restarting its practice of targeted assassinations of Palestinian political figures.

Both Israeli and Islamic Jihad officials confirmed the killing of the group’s Gaza-based leader, 42-year-old Bahaa Abu al-Atta, along with his wife Asma. The group also claimed that two others, suspected to be the pair’s children, were injured in the attack.

The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza reported on Monday afternoon that in addition to Abu al-Atta and his wife, three others were killed, and 30 others were injured, some critically. The deceased were identified as Mohammed Hamoda, 20, Zaki Ghanama, 25, and Ibrahim al-Dabous, 26.

Relatives of Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Baha Abu Al-Atta, who died hit by an Israeli airstrike mourn during his funeral in Gaza City, on November 12, 2019.(Photo: by Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)
Relatives of Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Baha Abu Al-Atta, who died hit by an Israeli airstrike mourn during his funeral in Gaza City, on November 12, 2019.(Photo: by Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)
Relatives of Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Baha Abu Al-Atta, who died hit by an Israeli airstrike mourn during his funeral in Gaza City, on November 12, 2019.(Photo: by Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)
Relatives of Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Baha Abu Al-Atta, who died hit by an Israeli airstrike mourn during his funeral in Gaza City, on November 12, 2019.(Photo: by Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)

Separately, Syrian state TV reported that Israel also conducted airstrikes in Damascus, targeting the home of another Islamic Jihad leader, Akram al-Ajouri.

Al-Ajouri allegedly survived the attack, though it was reported that his son and granddaughter were killed. Unlike the attack in Gaza, Israel did not confirm the attack in Syria.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later said that the operation in Gaza was approved 10 days prior by the government’s security cabinet.

The attacks prompted dozens of rounds of retaliatory rocket fire from Gaza, and subsequent additional airstrikes from Israel, targeting Islamic Jihad posts across the coastal enclave.

Gaza City, November 12, 2019. (Photo: by Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)
Gaza City, November 12, 2019. (Photo: by Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)

By Wednesday morning, Israel had launched dozens of airstrikes on the small territory, with Gaza’s Health Ministry had reported 23 deaths, among them three children.

The Israeli military reported that over 190 rockets had been fired from Gaza into Israeli territory — though most were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, and no Israeli casualties were reported.

While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened Islamic Jihad during a special cabinet meeting, saying “either stop these attacks or absorb more and more blows,” the Palestinian political faction insists that Israel, who initiated the first attack, is to be held responsible for the latest escalation.

“The response to this crime will have no limits,” Islamic Jihad said in a statement on Tuesday, saying the Israeli occupation was “the one responsible for this aggression.”

Gaza City, November 12, 2019. (Photo: by Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)
Gaza City, November 12, 2019. (Photo: by Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)
Gaza City, November 12, 2019. (Photo: by Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)
Gaza City, November 12, 2019. (Photo: by Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)

Senior leader of Islamic Jihad Ziad al-Nakhala said Israel “crossed all red lines” with the killing of Abu al-Atta, saying that his fighters “are going to war.”

Israel’s once commonplace policy of targeted assassinations of members of Palestinian political factions has been largely dormant in recent years, due to the exacerbation of tensions that often result in the aftermath.

While the assassination of Abu al-Atta was celebrated by Netanyahu and his supporters as a victory for Israel, critics of the premiere argue that the move was an attempt by Netanyahu, who has now failed twice to form a governing coalition, at bolstering political support.

Gaza City, November 12, 2019. (Photo: by Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)
Gaza City, November 12, 2019. (Photo: by Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)
Palestinians inspect the remains of a building following an Israeli airstrike. (Photo: by Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)
Palestinians inspect the remains of a building following an Israeli airstrike, November 12, 2019. (Photo: by Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)

“After months of top down ordered quiet from the resistance factions in Gaza, the timing of this targeted killing leaves no room for doubt that there was a political calculus,” regional political analyst Dawoud Yousef told Mondoweiss.

“Netanyahu’s primary talking point in both his re-election campaign, and therefore his campaign to keep himself out of jail, has been security,” Yousef continued.

Netanyahu, according to Yousef, was “surely aware of the blow back from this killing in regard to a response from the factions, so he knows that his response in managing this flare up will be critical.”

When asked if he believes the current tensions could devolve into another drawn out war on Gaza, Yousef said he thinks Netanyahu wants to “desperately avoid that.”

“A managed solution that demonstrates Israel’s ability to kill, and face no liabilities in terms of security, is the ideal outcome.”

Gaza City, November 12, 2019. (Photo: by Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)
Gaza City, November 12, 2019. (Photo: by Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)
Smoke rises after an Israeli airstrike on Gaza City, November 12, 2019. (Photo: by Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)
Smoke rises after an Israeli airstrike on Gaza City, November 12, 2019. (Photo: by Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)
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In Northern Ireland in the 1970s there were peace talks in Sunningdale , England. They collapsed due to opposition from hardliners. The final peace deal was called “Sunningdale for slow learners” by John Hume. Gaza is the same. Israel is deluded. David Grossman wrote a super op ed almost a decade ago describing Israel’s problem. https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2010-jun-02-la-oe-grossman-israel-20100602-story.html “And this closure is the all-too-natural consequence of a clumsy and calcified policy, which again and again resorts by… Read more »

This latest “round” is unique in comparison with the previous ones in that Hamas remained on the sidelines as the IDF pounded Islamic Jihad. Many observers have noted what appears to be a strategic alliance between Netanyahu and Hamas (and conversely between the Israeli opposition and the PA). Also note zero support for IJ from the WB or from anywhere in the Arab world, especially because of their ties with Iran.

Not a single photo of an Israeli running for his/her life from the hundreds of terror rockets launched by the Iran proxy terrorist group Islamic Jihad.

You’d think Mondoweiss didn’t care about Israeli lives.

@Jackdaw

“BTW, Israel had given the order to assassinate Abu al-Atta weeks ago, but delayed carrying out the order so as to minimize civilian casualties”

Yes of course the most moral are world leaders at “minimisation” of civilian casualties.
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/11/gaza-family-members-killed-12-critical-israeli-raids-191114174542294.html

BTW Jackass WTF is this “Marxism is dead” about. Has all this wonderful Zionist carnage finally pickled what there was of your brain