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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)

Yumna Patel

Yumna Patel is the Palestine correspondent for Mondoweiss.

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19 Responses

  1. Maghlawatan on November 13, 2019, 4:03 pm

    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 default to the use of massive and exaggerated force, at every decisive juncture, where wisdom and sensitivity and creative thinking are called for instead. And somehow, all these calamities –including Monday’s deadly events –seem to be part of a larger corruptive process afflicting Israel. One has the sense that a sullied and bloated political system, fearfully aware of the steaming mess produced over the years by its own actions and malfunctions, and despairing of the possibility to undo the endless tangle it has wrought, becomes ever more inflexible in the face of pressing and complicated challenges, losing in the process the qualities that once typified Israel and its leadership –freshness, originality, creativity.”

    Nothing has changed because the hardliners in the Israeli Army and settler movement like the status quo. It means the Army gets lots of money, just like in Northern Ireland . The settlers also get loads of money.

    The political architecture that supports the Occupation is slowly rotting away in both the UK and even the US. Israel won’t always have the luxury of time.

    J. K. Galbraith: “The conventional wisdom”gives way not so much to new ideas as to “the massive onslaught of circumstances with which it cannot contend”.

    “To the wicked, everything serves as pretext.” ~ Voltaire

    • Misterioso on November 14, 2019, 10:00 am

      @Maghlawatan

      “The political architecture that supports the Occupation is slowly rotting away in both the UK and even the US. Israel won’t always have the luxury of time.”

      Accurate and well said!!!

      • Maghlawatan on November 16, 2019, 3:41 am

        The pictures of the destruction in Gaza remind me of the movie The Hunger Games.

        This 2007 interview with Joel Kovel about Zionism is excellent. Starts around 10 minutes.
        Zionism is not sustainable.

        https://kpfa.org/episode/24518/

  2. jon s on November 14, 2019, 4:58 am

    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.

    • Jackdaw on November 14, 2019, 8:53 am

      @jon s

      Good point, Jon.
      Iran’s standing among Arabs seems to be diminishing, a fact that Iran has no doubt also noted.

      How will Iran react to this?

      Double down, probably.

      • Misterioso on November 14, 2019, 10:05 am

        @Jackdaw

        “Iran’s standing among Arabs seems to be diminishing.”
        Not within the “Arab street.”
        Indeed, there is a realization within the Sunni and Shia communities that for the benefit of both, they should join hands.

      • Jackdaw on November 14, 2019, 5:17 pm

        @Mister Zero

        The Marxist dead-enders have had their say.

        The sad round-Robin has now concluded.

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius on November 14, 2019, 11:18 am

      ” the IDF pounded Islamic Jihad. ”

      They’ve also ‘pounded’ innocent women and children to death too. But nobody in Israel will be in the least bit concerned, since Arabs are not fully human to them.

      • Misterioso on November 14, 2019, 6:59 pm

        @Jackdaw

        “The Marxist dead-enders have had their say. The sad round-Robin has now concluded.”

        Sigh. Pitiful response. At least you’re consistent.

  3. Jackdaw on November 14, 2019, 7:29 am

    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.

    • eljay on November 14, 2019, 8:05 am

      || Jackdaw: … You’d think Mondoweiss didn’t care about Israeli lives. ||

      You might think that, but you’d be mistaken. However, you know for certain that Zionists don’t care about justice, accountability and equality in I-P.

      Hey, maybe you can answer this question: Is it acceptable for non-Israelis to conduct targeted assassinations within Israel of people considered by non-Israelis to be terrorists? If not, why not?

    • Misterioso on November 14, 2019, 10:12 am

      @Jackdaw

      Spare us your nonsense! The bottom line is that It is abundantly clear that “Israel” doesn’t care at all about the horrors it has and continues to perpetrate against the illegally imprisoned Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and takes delight in killing them and depriving them of the essentials of life. In short, reminiscent of Jewish ghettos surrounded by Nazis.

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius on November 14, 2019, 11:20 am

      What Israeli lives have been lost? Or even seriously threatened?

      Aggressor victimhood is not a good look. Wailing about how nobody cares about Israeli lives when several members of the same family, including children, were murdered by Israel, shows a very ugly level of narcissism.

      • Jackdaw on November 15, 2019, 12:52 am

        @Glutius Maximus

        An Iranian stooge commander, and his family, were killed because IJ terrorists, acting at the behest of their Iranian masters, won’t abide by the truce that IJ had begged for and been granted, the day before.

        Terrorists.
        Puppets.
        Deal breakers.

        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.

        But if IJ won’t stop firing terror rockets at Israeli civilians and violating their agreed on truce, than all niceties aimed at reducing civilian casualties will be removed.

        Apparently you didn’t get the memo. Marxism is dead.
        Deal with it. Move on.

      • eljay on November 15, 2019, 8:53 am

        Jackdaw, I know you’re a busy supremacist but please find a moment to answer this question:

        Is it acceptable for non-Israelis to conduct targeted assassinations within Israel of people considered by non-Israelis to be terrorists? If not, why not?

        Thanks.  :-)

      • Mooser on November 15, 2019, 1:09 pm

        “Apparently you didn’t get the memo. Marxism is dead.”

        How on earth does “Marxism” enter into it, “Jackdaw”?
        You figure the Palestinians are backed by COMINTERN?

    • oldgeezer on November 14, 2019, 10:44 pm

      @jackdaw

      jackdaw stands with Israel upon a pile of Palestinian bodies. Women and children. And crows What about me. What about us.

      Get off it jack. Your humanity has gone awol.

      • Mooser on November 15, 2019, 1:14 pm

        “And crows What about me. What about us.”

        Zionism is trolling. Trolling is the only form of communication known to Zionism. No matter who they are talking to.

  4. Ossinev on November 15, 2019, 9:04 am

    @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

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