Israeli strike kills reported leader of group linked to al-Qaida


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli airstrikes targeted and killed a leader of a terror group linked to al-Qaida in the Gaza Strip, according to the Israeli military.

Israel also struck two terror cells, one that fired rockets on Israel and one preparing to launch rockets, its military said, during a weekend of attacks by both sides.

Two rockets fired from Gaza struck southern Israel early Sunday morning. The rocket strikes were fired after an Israeli airstrike hit two Palestinian men in Gaza as they were preparing to launch a rocket attack on Israel, according to a statement from the Israel Defense Forces. Later Sunday, the Air Force struck a terror cell that had fired the rockets Sunday morning, killing two and injuring two, according to reports. 

On Saturday night, the Israeli Air Force reportedly killed Gaza resident Hisham Saidani, who the IDF identified as a founder of the Hashura Council of the Mujahideen terrorist organization, which operates under the umbrella of Global Jihad and was involved in significant terror activity against Israeli civilians and Israeli soldiers. Saidani reportedly had been planning a complex attack to be carried out along the Sinai border in a collaboration between Gaza-based militants and Salafi Muslim operatives in Sinai, according to the IDF.

Over the years, Saidani was responsible for terrorist activity in the Gaza Strip, including firing of rockets and the placement of explosive devices.

Last Friday, a rocket fired from Gaza exploded in the yard of an Israeli home in Netivot, damaging the bedroom of a young boy who was not at home at the time.

Meanwhile, al-Qaida head Ayman al-Zawahri accused Washington of fighting a "crusader Zionist war" against Muslims. In a recorded message posted on Islamist Web sites, Zawahri called on Muslims to hold more protests outside of American embassies and praised those that have attacked U.S. diplomatic posts.

He called on his followers to wage a holy war against the United States and Israel in order to exact revenge for the anti-Muslim film the “Innocence of Muslims.” 

Zawahri, an Egyptian-born preacher, became al-Qaida’s leader after Osama bin Laden was killed by the U.S. military last year.

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