Jerusalem, March 9 – Terrorists in Gaza fired at least 20 rockets and mortars at Israeli civilians Friday after the Israel Air Force killed two senior terrorist leaders in a targeted strike. Two people were seriously hurt, said an IDF spokeswoman.
The IDF Spokesman said in a statement that the Air Force targeted Zuhir al-Qaisi, the secretary-general of the Popular Resistance Committees, and his collaborator, Mahmoud Hanani.
Al-Qaisi, the IDF Spokesman said, was organizing a large, coordinated terror attack to be carried out on Israel's border with Gaza. Hanani was a resident of Nablus and one of the prisoners freed as part of the deal to release Gilad Shalit, and was expelled to the Gaza Strip.
An Israel Defense Forces statement said: “Zahir Kaisi born in 1963 and from Gaza City, was the head of the Popular Resistance Committee terror organization and was also its political commander.
“Kaisi was among the leaders who planned, funded, and directed the combined terror attack that took place on Route 12 in August 2011, in which 40 people were injured. Kaisi was also involved in rocket fire at Israel, as well as in the attack on the Nahal Oz fuel terminal in April 2008, in which two Israeli citizens were killed. In addition, Kaisi was in charge of transferring funds from Hezbollah to terror organizations in the Gaza Strip.”
Eight Israelis were killed in the attack on Highway 12 near the border with Egypt in August of 2011.
The statement added that the IDF was not seeking an escalation but would respond to any attempts to execute terrorist attacks with strength and determination.
Later, Israeli aircraft thwarted two terrorist squads trying to fire rockets at Israel. However news media reported that at least 20 rockets and mortars were fired. Channel 2 reported that two exploded near the city of Ashkelon. Others were aimed at the city of Ashdod and Beersheba. Several rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system.
The Jerusalem Post reported that a 40-year-old man was seriously injured in the Eshkol Regional Council from a mortar shell fired from Gaza late Friday night. A second man was moderately injured by shrapnel in his stomach, and a third man was slightly injured. One other civilian was being treated for shock. Paramedics said the injured appear to be foreign workers.
This brings the number of rockets fired from Gaza this year at Israeli civilians to at least 80, according to a count by The Israel Project.