JERUSALEM, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- The Israeli military said it killed a key militant in northern Gaza Strip overnight Wednesday, saying the man was behind a string of rocket attacks on southern Israel in recent years.
The airstrike in Beit Hanoun, which came shortly after midnight, targeted Ahmed Za'anin, a senior operative of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), who has perpetrated numerous cross-border attacks, the military said in a statement.
The army said it operated in order to eliminate an imminent threat to the lives of Israeli civilians. Za'anin, a former member of Islamic Jihad, planned to launch rockets in the near future, it said.
His most recent attack involved firing two rockets as former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was being buried at his Negev farm on Jan. 15 in a ceremony attended by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Israel's top leaders.
He has also been involved in sniping attacks and detonating explosive devices against Israeli troops on the Gaza border since 2009, the army said.
Reports said that a second militant, a relative of Za'anin, was also killed in the strike, which was yet to be confirmed by the Israeli military. Eyewitnesses said the two men were sitting in a car when it was struck by a missile.
Earlier on Tuesday, militants fired three rockets into the western Negev, causing no injuries or damage.
On Sunday, an Israeli aircraft seriously wounded Ahmad Sa'ad, 22, a senior Islamic Jihad operative who Israel said was personally responsible for launching six rockets towards the coastal city of Asheklon on Jan. 16. The rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
Two other people, including a 12-year-old boy, were injured in that strike, Palestinian sources said.
Following the recent escalation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon have vowed to respond forcefully to rocket attacks, including preemptive action.
Netanyahu said on Tuesday that Israel had "a very clear policy of foiling terrorist attacks" when it identified their forming.
"If Hamas and the terrorist organizations have forgotten this lesson, then they will learn it, with great force, in the near future," he said.
JERUSALEM, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- Residents of southern Israel have once again had their lives disrupted by rockets fired from the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula.
On Monday night, two rockets landed outside the resort town of Eilat on the Red Sea, and last week nine rockets were fired targeting the city of Ashkelon, five of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. Full Story