JERUSALEM, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the government is resolute in its efforts to maintain southern Israel calm and safe from rocket attacks.
The remark came after an airstrike on Sunday morning targeted an Islamic Jihad militant in the northern Gaza Strip whom the Israeli military said was directly involved in numerous rocket attacks.
The military named the target as Ahmad Sa'ad, 22, and said he played a key role in perpetrating rocket attacks against southern Israeli cities and communities bordering Gaza in recent years, including an attack last Thursday in which five projectiles were fired at the city of Ashkelon and intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-rocket system.
It was not immediately clear if the militant, who was targeted while riding a motorcycle with another man, had been killed in the strike. Palestinian sources said he suffered serious head injuries, and that a 12-year-old boy who was standing nearby was moderately injured. Both were evacuated to a local hospital.
"We are determined to maintain quiet in the south," Netanyahu's bureau quoted him as saying at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting. "We do so by a policy of preventive action and forceful reaction against those who try to harm us or who harm us."
"I suggest that Hamas take our policy into account," he warned.
The Israeli army said following Sunday's attempt to target the militant that it "acted to eliminate an imminent threat" to Israeli civilians.
"Sa'ad was personally responsible for the rocket fire on Ashkelon on Thursday, and was engaged in planning additional rocket attacks in the coming days," it said in a statement.
Sunday's strike was the first of its kind to be carried out by the Israel Air Force since an Egyptian-brokered truce ended an eight-day between Israel and Hamas last November, with Hamas pledging to restrain incessant rocket attacks from Gaza and Israel agreeing to halt targeted killings of militants.
Israeli aircraft early Thursday morning struck Hamas training facilities in southern and central Gaza after a rocket landed in the western Negev overnight Saturday.
No injuries were reported in both the rocket attack and the retaliation.