Smoke billows from a building in Gaza City on November 12, 2019, after an Israeli airstrike killed the commander of Islamic Jihad and prompted retaliatory rocket fire from the Palestinian enclave. (Mahmud Hams/AFP via Getty Images)

Israel Admits to Attempted Assassination of Palestinian Terror Leader in Syria

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett for the first time over the weekend acknowledged that Israel attempted to assassinate a top Palestinian Islamic Jihad commander in Syria last November. The failed air strike against Akram al-Ajouri came just hours after the Israeli military eliminated Baha Abu al-Ata, the leader of the Iranian-backed terror group’s armed wing in the Gaza Strip. That incident sparked a 48-hour conflagration in which PIJ fired some 500 rockets toward Israel, to which the Jewish state responded by targeting military sites across the enclave. Bennett’s admission is being construed as a warning to PIJ in the aftermath of last week’s two-day military exchange that was triggered by Israel’s killing of a terrorist who had planted an explosive device along the border security fence. During the flare-up, Israel Defense Forces air strikes killed two PIJ members based near Damascus, suggesting that Jerusalem has adopted a new tactic aimed at deterring Iran’s proxy. Analysts believe that the Islamic Republic may be attempting to raise tensions in Gaza amid rumors that Israel and Hamas could be nearing agreement on a long-elusive, long-term cease-fire that would include an end to all hostilities in exchange for the easing of restrictions on the import of goods into the blockaded Palestinian territory.

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