Early Wednesday morning the Israeli Air Force, in a joint operation with the Shin Bet, targeted and killed a known terrorist in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun. The targeted man was 21 year old Ahmad Zaanin, a member of the Gaza based terror organization Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
A member of the PFLP’s military wing, Zaanin was personally responsible for previous terror attacks on Israel, most recently launching rockets shortly after the funeral of Ariel Sharon. Referring to Zaanin’s terrorist history, the IDF said that “In his earlier days Zaanin was affiliated with the Islamic Palestinian Jihad, during which the terrorist operated towards the execution of terror attacks.”
Zaanin was confirmed dead by Palestinian media outlets. Along with Zaanin, a second Palestinian was killed in the strike. The Palestinian Ma’an News Agency identified the second man as Mahmoud Yousef Zaanin, 23, member of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization. Residents in Gaza told Reuters that the two men, who were cousins, were sitting in a parked car when an IAF missile destroyed the vehicle and the men in it.
In a statement released by the IDF, “Since 2009 Zaanin, with the cooperation of other terror bodies in the Gaza Strip, had endorsed numerous attacks such as sniping attacks and detonating explosive devices against IDF soldiers.” The IDF also stated that the death of Zaanin prevented numerous impending rocket attacks against Israel and that the army “acted to remove an immediate threat to Israeli civilians.”
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon stated that this strike was “another step in our [Israel’s] determination to fight fire missiles and rockets at Israeli cities and Israeli citizens.”
Ya’alon reiterated Israel’s commitment to protect its citizens by any means possible: “We will not hesitate to hurt those who threaten our security and we will do this with all means and tools at our disposal. We see Hamas responsible for firing at Israel, and we will continue to fight back at Hamas and those engaged in terror.”
Wednesday’s airstrike comes at a time of increased violence emanating from the Gaza Strip. Since January 1, terrorists have shot dozens of rockets into Israeli cities. Earlier this week, on Monday, three rockets were fired into the western Negev region. Also on Monday, two Grad rockets were fired at the southern Israeli resort town of Eilat.