JERUSALEM (JTA) — Targeted Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip killed a Palestinian terrorist who was said to be responsible for the rockets fired on southern Israel at the end of Ariel Sharon’s funeral.
Ahmad Za’anin, 22, and another passenger were killed when rockets fired early Wednesday morning struck the car in which they were sitting near Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza.
Za’anin was a key Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine operative in Gaza “who has actively planned to launch rockets at Israeli communities in the south of Israel,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.
The mission was carried out in conjunction with Israel’s Shin Bet security service.
The IDF said it was Za’anin who was responsible for the rockets fired at the end of the funeral for Sharon, the former Israeli prime minister, on Jan. 15.
Za’anin formerly was a terrorist operative for Islamic Jihad in Gaza, where he also directed rocket attacks against southern Israel.
Islamic Jihad’s military wing, the al-Quds Brigades, vowed revenge for the killing of Za’anin.
“His blood was not spilled in vain. His death will follow the occupier wherever it goes,” the group wrote on its website, vowing to free all of “Palestine.”
Hours before the strikes, on Tuesday afternoon, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly warned Gaza terror leaders that Israel would strike at terrorists whenever it deems necessary.
“We have a very clear policy: We prevent terror attacks when we identify them in the making, and we respond forcefully against whoever hurts us,” Netanyahu said during a news conference with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.