VIDEO - Two Palestinians were killed Friday evening after an IDF helicopter fired a missile at the vehicle they were riding in the town of al-Mugraka near Khan Younis in the central Gaza strip. Another passenger sustained serious injuries.
A spokesman for the al-Quds Brigades said that one of the operatives killed is Imad Yassin, one of the group's top leaders. His bodyguard, Habib Asur, was also killed in the strike.
IDF sources said that the strike targeted an Islamic Jihad cell that was behind Qassam rocket attacks at Israel. Army sources believe that the members were involved in launching rockets at the town of Sderot this week, including Qassams that landed close to the house of Defense Minister Amir Peretz.
According to Palestinian reports, shortly before 10:00 p.m., a missile was launched at a Toyota-type vehicle carrying several people. Palestinian medical teams arrived at the place to recover the bodies from the burning car.
Despite the escalating targeted killings by the IDF in recent days, several Palestinian groups, including Islamic Jihad's military wing the al-Quds Brigades and Fatah's military wing, declared they have launched an operation against Israel. The organizations threaten to fire Qassams and carry out terror attacks against Israel and against Israeli targets.
Following assassination (Photo: Reuters)
Ever since last weekend's incident on the Gaza beach, which left seven civilians dead, the IDF has been acting mostly through its air force, after suspending all artillery and naval fire. Efforts have concentrated throughout the week on accurate strikes from the air, despite Tuesday's targeted killing in which civilians were again killed.
The IDF said that after the vehicle was hit, a massive explosion erupted, a fact which strengthens the assumption there were Qassam rockets inside the car.
"They were planning to continue firing rockets at Israel. The operations against all terror groups, regardless of the organization they belong to, go on and will continue in the future," a Southern Command official stressed.
"Anyone involved with terror, who fires Qassams, places explosive devices or who is behind any other actions, stands a chance of getting hurt," he added.
Hanan Greenberg contributed to the report