A security official on Tuesday said that the Gaza factions were shocked by the Israeli strike that killed three Palestinian Islamic Jihad commanders, but their response would certainly come.
Israel launched strikes on Gaza in the early morning hours on Tuesday in a targeted killing of the PIJ commanders and the destruction of the Islamist terror group's bases and weapon production sites.
The IDF released video footage of the targeted killing of Khalil al-Bahtini, the commander of the northern Gaza Strip region, and Jihad Ghannam, the secretary of the Jihad Military Council. Both were among the three senior operatives who were killed in an airstrike.
Israeli officials are currently awaiting a response from the Gaza Strip following the initiation of Operation "Shield and Arrow".
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conducted a one-hour situation assessment with top security officials, including Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi, Shin Bet Chief Ronen Bar, and Mossad Chief Dedi Barnea.
Defense Minister Gallant spoke with officials in Gaza, informing them that Israel is prepared for any scenario, including a prolonged and expanded campaign. He emphasized that the IDF and security forces are equipped with all necessary resources and that the security apparatus is ready to offer any necessary assistance.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the military wing of Hamas, Abu Hamza, denounced the attack as an "inhumane crime" and vowed to continue the path taken by the fallen leaders, which he claimed would ultimately lead to the downfall of the enemy and its commanders.
He further called on the public to support the resistance and "oppose the Zionists", indicating a potential escalation in the future.
"Our message was that deterrence is not achieved on a whim, but rather we carefully analyze the situation," the Israeli official said
"As early as Wednesday afternoon, the Prime Minister instructed the security establishment to prepare a response. The goal was to take action against those responsible for the rocket fire last week, and prevent future attacks," he said. "We held meetings on Thursday and Friday, waiting for the right operational conditions that would minimize harm to civilians."
With operation "Shield and Arrow" currently focused on the Islamic Jihad, it is unclear whether Hamas will decide to sit on the sidelines or choose to engage in the fight. Current Israeli security estimations point to the former.
The security cabinet is scheduled to convene later on Tuesday after most of its members were left uninformed about the military operation. The ministers had not given the authorization to resume the policy of targeted assassinations.
On Thursday, Defense Minister Gallant said that the probability of any military action escalating into war was low. The Prime Minister's Military Secretary, Avi Gil, reiterated this point as well and received approval to launch the strike, from Attorney General, Gali Baharav-Miara.
Following the initial airstrike that killed three senior officials in the Gaza Strip, IDF continued their attacks on various weapon production sites.
The targets included rocket production workshops in Khan Yunis and a site used to produce components for terrorist tunnels. Additionally, six military compounds belonging to the Islamic Jihad were attacked, which were primarily used for weapons storage and logistical support. A military position of the Jihad in the southern Gaza Strip was also targeted.
President Yitzhak Herzog expressed his appreciation for the IDF's operations in protecting the state and its citizens.
In an interview with Ynet, IDF spokesperson, Brigadier General Daniel Hagari, said that the decision to target the senior officers in Gaza was made in response to the extensive rocket fire to the southern region the previous week.
"The political apparatus approved the operational alternatives for us, and since then we have been waiting for the best conditions to carry out the operation," he said adding that the conditions early on Tuesday were deemed optimal, leading to the execution of the attacks.
Hagari described the targeted killing of the three senior activists as a highly complex operation that required coordination and intelligence from various sources.
"We are talking about three operatives, two living in different residential buildings in the heart of Gaza City, one of the densest areas in the world, and another in Rafah," he said.
"The ability to put together such a puzzle, operational intelligence, military intelligence, general security service, operational planning of the Air Force, over 40 aircraft in the sky for detection and attack. This operation is a very complex one."
Regarding the possibility of a reaction from the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip, Hagari said that the IDF was prepared to respond to any scenario or development.