Netanyahu: Target Was Involved in Rocket Fire on Eilat

IAF Kills Gaza Militant in First Targeted Strike Since Pillar of Defense

According to Israel, Hitham Ziyad Ibrahim Mishal, 24, was an expert in arms who worked with various terrorist groups.

The Israel Air Force killed a global jihad militant in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, the first targeted assassination since Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012.

Hitham Ziyad Ibrahim Mishal, 24, was a resident of Shati, a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. According to the Shin Bet, Mishal was “a cornerstone of terrorism in the Gaza Strip, specializing in arms.” He is said to have manufactured, improved and traded in various weapons, especially rockets and improvised bombs, which he passed on to different terrorist groups in Gaza, both for economic profit and to promote terrorism. After the strike, the IDF called him “an expert in arms manufacturing who worked with all the terrorist outfits in the Gaza Strip.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel "targeted one of those involved in the criminal rocket fire on Eilat." "I had said we would respond," he said. "We will not accept continuous fire from the Gaza Strip and Sinai, and we will and are working to protect the State of Israel."

Army sources added that it is still unclear who else was wounded in the strike. In the five months since IDF concluded Operation Pillar of Defense, the air force has attacked the Gaza Strip twice: After rocket fire at the beginning of April, the air force attacked two tunnels in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. And, two days ago, the air force attacked two other targets – an arms depot and a terrorist facility – in the strip’s southern part. The IDF spokesperson said: “The IDF will continue to operate against anyone taking action to harm the citizens of Israel and its soldiers.”

Sources in the defense establishment noted that Mishal helped the organization called the Shura Council of the Mujahideen in the Outskirts of Jerusalem, which draws its inspiration from global jihad and was involved in a number of attacks, including the attack at the Israeli-Egyptian border in June that killed Said Fashapshe, a contract worker for the Defense Ministry. The Salafist organization, which identifies itself with al-Qaeda, was also responsible for the rocket fire from Sinai to Eilat on April 17. A source in the Shin Bet added that Mishal’s assassination was carried out “to prevent future attacks from the Gaza Strip and Sinai” planned by other terrorists. Sources in the defense establishment also noted that Mishal's terrorist activity “was certainly known to Hamas but it avoided taking action.”

April has been a month of rising security concerns in the areas of Israel adjacent to the Gaza Strip. At least 11 rockets and mortar bombs were fired at area settlements, and two rockets were fired on Eilat, coming on the heels of the volley of rocket, 14 in all, fired at the area during President Barack Obama’s visit in March. Fire of such scope on the south of Israel has not been experienced since the IDF operation last November.

Also on Tuesday, Israeli settler Eviatar Borovzky was stabbed to death by a Palestinian at the Tapuach Junction in the West Bank.

A group of settlers began rioting in the area following the attack. Six were arrested, including two teenaged girls, after trying to block a road close to the Yitzhar settlement.

Protesters also began setting fields on fire in the Palestinian villages of Burin and Hawara. They also threw stones at a Palestinian school bus that was driving through on Route 60, wounding two girls.