Another terrorist taken out: Israel Air Force aircrafts were able to target a vehicle transporting Assam Subahi Ismail Batash, a senior Gaza-based terror operative.
According to the IDF and the Shin Bet, Batash was the mastermind behind several terror attacks carried out by militants who infiltrated into Israel from the Sinai Peninsula.
Palestinian security officials said Thursday that a car transporting three people exploded near a public garden in Gaza City, killing at least two people and injuring six. IDF officials confirmed that the IAF had targeted a vehicle carrying Batash. Eyewitnesses reported seeing the two men being pulled out of the white vehicle.
Batash, IDF officials claimed, was a senior figure in the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, and was behind the imminent terror threat in the south.
Officials said Batash was also involved in several attacks in which terrorists from Gaza were smuggled into Sinai and then infiltrated back into Israel through the border. In January 2007 he organized a suicide bombing in Eilat that killed three Israelis.
Batash was also involved in several botched attacks, in which he tried to smuggle terrorists and arms into Israel. .
According to Maan Palestinian news agency, the blast occurred in a car that was parked near the Gaza municipality building on Umar al Muhtar street in the center of the city.
Scene of car explosion (Photo: AFP)
Adham Abu Salima, an official in the Health Ministry, said the explosion set the car on fire and also wounded six bystanders.
On Wednesday, Israeli aircraft attacked terror cells in two separate locations in north Gaza. Palestinian sources said one of the cells, which belonged to Islamic Jihad's armed wing, was holed up in a building in Gaza City's Zeitun neighborhood, not far from the border fence separating Israel from the Hamas-ruled territory.
The IDF Spokesperson's Office said the terror cells were preparing to launch rockets towards Israeli army forces. The office said IDF forces who took part in the strike identified hits and thwarted the rocket fire.
The Palestinian government in Gaza Strip denounced the strike and called for United Nations and Egyptian intervention in order to "stop the Israeli aggression."
Hamas spokesman in Gaza Fauzi Barhoum said that the Israeli strike was "an escalation on the part of Israel, meant to bring the situation in Gaza to a boiling point after the recent calm in the Strip.
"This is an attempt to force a new balance (of power) on Gaza in light of Israel's repeated failures, meant to try and cover up its own internal and external crises."
Roi Kais contributed to this report
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