Israel targets Damascus home of Islamic Jihad official, group says

Israel targets Damascus home of Islamic Jihad official, group says

Speaking to MEE, political analyst Adnan abu-Amer said that abul-Ata's killing was the first assassination of a senior Palestinian resistance leader since 2012, when Israel killed the senior leader of Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military wing, Ahmed al-Jaabari.

The Islamic Jihad statement did not immediately accuse anyone in the Damascus incident.

The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad said an attack was carried out against the home of one of its officials in Damascus on Tuesday, killing the man's son.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the decision to kill the Islamic Jihad commander was made on Sunday by the cabinet.

Minutes after the Iran-backed group confirmed the leader's death, barrages of rockets could be heard fired toward Israel. The house was known to be Abu el-Atta's home. The group said that one of its senior members had been also targeted in a suspected Israeli airstrike in Damascus, where the Palestinian group has its headquarters. "There was no other choice", he said.

The army said it was restricting access to farm lands near the border with Gaza and that schools and some roads in the area would be closed Tuesday in anticipation of reprisal attacks.

Shortly after the attack, salvo's of rockets were launched from Gaza into Israel, with sirens wailing across central and southern parts of the country. Al-Ikhbariya channel said al-Ajouri's son was among those killed.

An AFP correspondent at the scene of the dawn strike saw a partially destroyed three-storey building in a chic neighbourhood of the capital not far from the Lebanese embassy. The building was blackened, its windows blown out. Power had gone off in the neighborhood from the attack.

The flare-up comes at a sensitive time politically for Israel. Bennett has long advocated tougher action against Palestinian militants, including a resumption of targeted killings.

The overnight attacks mark a significant escalation in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant groups, which have fought each other in wars and cross-border violence for years.

Short-but-frequent spasms of violence have occurred, the latest earlier this month when about 10 projectiles were fired at Israel, which accused Abu el-Atta of being behind them. Bennet has been clamouring for a more aggressive stance toward Gaza.

For Tehran, Tuesday's targeted attacks on leaders of the Iran-backed Islamic Jihad come at a vulnerable moment as Iran struggles under crippling US sanctions.

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