Israel Blames Iranian Proxy Islamic Jihad for Gaza Rocket Fire
The Israel Defense Forces accused Iran’s Palestinian terror proxy Islamic Jihad (IJ) of launching a rocket from the Gaza Strip that landed in the Mediterranean late Monday night. The Israeli military claimed IJ – the second most powerful force in Gaza – “intentionally fired” the projectile in a bid to derail a fragile ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, which rules the coastal enclave. The IDF took the rare step of pinning responsibility on the shoulders of Baha Abu al-Ata, the IJ commander in northern Gaza, from where the missile emanated. Analysts are construing the IDF’s move as a broad threat to IJ and Hamas leaders, given that some ministers in Jerusalem are pushing for the re-implementation of targeted killings. According to reports, Israel attempted to eliminate al-Ata during the 10-day conflict in 2012 and, most recently, during seven weeks of fighting in the summer of 2014. Notably, the IDF censored the publication of the location of the rocket’s impact site in a bid to prevent the IJ from improving the accuracy of its arsenal. According to the army, al-Ata received a directive to strike directly from Damascus-based IJ chief Ziad Nakhaleh, who, in turn, takes orders from the mullahs in Tehran. The incident comes ahead of an anticipated period of heightened tensions, with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan coinciding with Israel’s Independence Day—referred to by Palestinians as the “Nakba,” or catastrophe—as well as the one-year anniversary of the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem.