GAZA – After Israeli forces have killed a top Islamic Jihad commander in an air raid on his home in Gaza City, a new spiral of violence unleashed taking 18 Palestinians’ lives .
Shortly after the attack on Tuesday morning that killed Bahaa Abu al-Ata and his wife, salvos of rockets were launched from Palestinian groups in the besieged Gaza Strip into Israel.
According to health officials, in response to the rocket barrage, dozens of air raids were launched on Gaza. Overall, 18 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli bombardment in Gaza, reported Aljazeera.
Separately, Syrian state media said a separate missile attack on Tuesday hit the home of Islamic Jihad official Akram al-Ajouri in Damascus, killing two people including one of his sons. Syria said Israel carried out the Damascus attack. Israel did not comment.
Israel said its air strikes targeted Islamic Jihad sites as well as rocket-launching squads.
The rocket fire into Israel caused damage and a number of injuries, with at least one rocket hitting a house and another narrowly missing passing cars on a highway.
A factory in the city of Sderot was also hit, sparking a fire.
Islamic Jihad confirmed one of its officials, Akram Ajouri, was targeted, with Syrian state news agency SANA reporting an Israeli strike had hit Ajouri’s home in Damascus, “killing his son Muadh and another person”.
Israel did not comment on that strike.
The initial Israeli raid in Gaza early Tuesday, thought to have been carried out by a drone, killed Baha Abu Al-Ata, 41.
Islamic Jihad confirmed his death, along with that of his wife.
Israel blamed Ata for recent rocket fire into its territory and said he had been preparing further attacks.
As the retaliatory rocket fire followed, air raid sirens rang out in various parts of Israel as residents took cover in bomb shelters.
Israel’s military claimed Tuesday night that some 190 rockets had been fired at its territory throughout the day, with dozens intercepted by air defences.
More than half of the rockets fell in open areas, it said.
Footage posted online showing the rocket that hit the highway near the central Israeli city of Gan Yavne, narrowly missing cars.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel is prepared to keep bombarding Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza as long as rocket fire continues.
“They have one choice: to stop these attacks or absorb more and more blows. Their choice,” Netanyahu said in remarks made during a cabinet meeting.
(With inputs from AFP and Aljazeera)