Published on November 12, on Jerusalem Post
Israel will target anyone who tries to attack the State of Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened Tuesday, hours after the IDF assassinated a top Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu al-Ata in the Gaza Strip and as dozens of rockets were being fired across the country.
Netanyahu was joined at the press conference by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Nadav Argaman. Missing was newly-appointed Defense Minister Naftali Bennett who officially took up the role an hour before the press conference.
"Terrorists think they can hit civilians and hide behind civilians," the prime minister said. "We showed that we can hit the terrorist with minimal damage to civilians. Anyone who thinks they can hit our civilians and get away with it is wrong. If you hit us we will hit you."
Kochavi said that al-Ata was the person who tried to undermine Israel's efforts to reach a ceasefire with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. "In recent days he was working to perpetrate attacks against Israel," he said. "We tried to thwart his efforts in different ways without success and we then recommended a targeted killing."
Kochavi added: "We are not interested in an escalation but we are ready - on the ground, in the air and at sea."
Argaman said that the killing of Al-Ata was done at the best time from an operational perspective. Netanyahu called Al-Ata a "ticking bomb" and said that the cabinet had approved the operation to kill him about 10 days ago.
Early Tuesday morning, Israel struck a home in the Gaza Strip, killing Bahaa Abu Al-Atta, a top Islamic Jihad field commander, responsible for recent rocket fire against Israel and said to have been in the midst of planning a series of attacks against the Jewish state.