Members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad are furious after Hamas killed one of the group’s military commanders over the weekend. So how did Islamic Jihad respond to the killing of the head of its rocket unit? By firing six rockets at southern Israel overnight Monday.
The Palestinian Maan News Agency reports, “The rocket fire followed the announcement Sunday that Islamic Jihad was temporarily suspending ties with Hamas, accusing Gaza authorities of being responsible for the death of one of the group's members.”
The New York Times writes that the attacks “may have been set off by an internal dispute in Gaza between Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls the coastal territory, and the extremist Islamic Jihad group, one of whose members was killed when the Hamas police came to arrest him.”
In response to the rocket launching, Israeli Air Force jets targeted two weapons storage facilities and a rocket-launching site in Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.
“The IDF will not tolerate attempts to harm Israeli citizens, and our soldiers will continue to act against anyone who engages in terror against the State of Israel,” the IDF said.
Hamas police were reportedly trying to take a senior Islamic Jihad member into custody for interrogation on Saturday when he was shot in the head while resisting arrest. He died the next day.
According to the New York Times, the Islamic Jihad operative, Raed Jundiyeh, “was wanted by Hamas in connection with the kidnapping of a Gaza resident. He was also apparently wanted by Israel for his role in rocket attacks.”
Islamic Jihad’s military wing the Al-Quds Brigades said in a statement: "Raed Jundiya today succumbed to the wounds he sustained yesterday when Gaza government police shot him in the head in his home.”
"The murder of Raed Jundiya represents a major service to the Zionist enemy, provided completely free of charge, whether deliberately or not, because the martyr was, as everybody knows, on the top of the Zionists' hit-list as he headed the Brigades' rocket unit."
Hamas’ interior ministry disputes the “murder” allegation, saying Jundiya had shot at police, who in turn responded by firing back.
Lt. Col. Peter Lerner of the IDF Spokesman’s office called rocket attacks on Israel “an intolerable act of aggression against Israel and its civilians.”
“Hamas is held accountable for all acts of terrorism deriving from the Gaza Strip,” Lerner added according to the New York Times.
There were no reports of injuries from the rocket attacks in southern Israel or the IDF’s response in Gaza.
Despite the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire ending hostilities between Israel and Hamas in November, there have been at least 36 Palestinian rockets or mortars fired into Israel from Gaza this year, according to a regularly updated list in Wikipedia relying on Israeli and Palestinian media sources.
According to the Times of Israel, Islamic Jihad’s military wing is the second largest armed group in Gaza, with about 8,000 members.