An Israeli airstrike targeted the car of a rocket cell in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya on Monday, killing four senior members of the Islamic Jihad terror group, Palestinian paramedics said.
Meanwhile, Hamas instructed its activists not to use their cell phones as a preventive measure against assassinations.
The army said helicopters fired missiles at a car carrying terrorists, adding that between 40 to 50 terrorists have been killed in the recent operations.
Military sources noted that the attack proved that the army was acting against all those involved in terror regardless of their organizational affiliation.
"The Islamic Jihad was involved throughout the past few months in the firing of Qassams and in attempts to carry out terror attacks against Israeli targets, and therefore its people are not immune as well," a source said.
IAF airstrike (Photo: Reuters)
A senior Islamic Jihad official said in response to the assassination that the killed men were members of one of the top-quality cells involved in manufacturing and firing Qassam rockets. He added, however, that the organization consisted of dozens of experts on rocket manufacturing.
A spokesman for the al-Quds Brigades, the Islamic Jihad's military wing, said following the strike that "the offensive will not end the Qassam fire" and that "the leaders of the Zionist enemy will pay a price for this."
Hamas members turn off their phones
Hamas' military wing instructed its members to stop using their cell phones and to refrain from traveling in cars in order to minimize the chances for assassinations.
"Don't use (Palestinian mobile operator) Jawal's phones," the group's spokesman said on a wireless channel used by Hamas members. "Don't gather in groups and don’t use any transportation means, as aircraft are in the sky all the time."
Many official Hamas sources accepted the warnings and turned off their cell phones. Ayman Taha of Hamas said, "We must be careful."
Monday's attack came on the fifth day of an Israeli offensive against gunmen in the Gaza Strip in response to heightened rocket attacks at Israeli towns and kibbutzim near the border with the coastal territory.
On Sunday, eight Palestinians were killed in an airstrike on the house of a Hamas lawmaker in Gaza City, hours after the Israeli government approved targeted assassinations of Palestinians involved in attacks against Israel.
Overnight, the air force targeted a metal workshop in Gaza City used by terror groups to manufacture rockets, killing one person and injuring four others.
Three rockets were fired towards Israel on Monday morning. Two rockets landed near a kibbutz in the western Negev and the third exploded south of Ashkelon.
Hamas and Fatah agreed to a ceasefire on Sunday, ending t10 days of fierce internal battles that claimed the lives of dozens.
Hanan Greenberg contributed to this report