Three members of Islamic Jihad were killed on Monday night in a second IDF airstrike in the Sheik Ajlin neighborhood in Gaza City. Palestinian officials in Gaza confirmed that one of the men killed was the leader of the organization's Qassam rocket cells.
The Ajlin attack came several short hours after another senior Islamic Jihad commander was killed after Israeli aircraft targeted his explosives-laden vehicle in Gaza City.
Islamic Jihad officials confirmed Majed al-Harazin's death to Ynet, and said two more men belonging to the organization were killed in the same strike.
Also called Abu Muamen, al-Harazin was the 'general commander' of the al-Quds Brigades – Islamic Jihad's military wing in the Strip and considered one of the organization's highest ranking commanders. He was charged with overseeing all Islamic Jihad operations in the region, including rocket attacks and attempts to dispatch suicide bombers into Israel.
"The Islamic Jihad and Palestinians resistance organizations will respond to this grave Israeli crime over the course of the following days," al-Quds spokesman Abu Ahmed told Ynet.
"There is no need to make threats, because the resistance and attacks are our means. The resistance is a strategy and not responses – that is why the attacks will continue but at the same time because of this attack, they will intensify," said the spokesman.
It was initially reported that al-Harazin managed to escape the attack on his vehicle, as the force of the blast made it difficult to identify the bodies within the car - which had been packed with explosives. Several Islamic Jihad gunmen even fired in the air in celebration of al-Harazin's alleged escape.
Al-Harazin's vehicle in Gaza City on Monday (Photo: AFP)
Abu Ahmed said that al-Harazin's death would not impair the group's operations: "This is a difficult loss but the Israelis are wrong if they think that this blow will incapacitate the movement. Al-Harazin was the general commander, but we have seen that even when the founding secretary general was killed (Fathi Shaqaqi in 1995 – allegedly by Mossad agents) – the Islamic Jihad movement forged on and continued to batter the enemy – this will be the same."
Abu Ahmed said that all previous talk about a possible ceasefire was no longer relevant. "Now is not the time to deal in politics, policy and calm. There will be no Hudna (temporary ceasefire) – only weapons and the power of rockets and bombings, because this is the only language that the enemy understands."
The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for Sunday's rocket barrage against Israel's south in which a two-
year-old infant was lightly wounded.
"There will be no holding back now. When I say all bets are off – I also mean suicide bombings within the Green Line. The resistance will continue and over the next few days and hours the results will be evident."
Efrat Weiss contributed to this report