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Live Updates: Dozens of Rockets Fired at Israel From Gaza After IDF Kills Islamic Jihad Commander

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Recently, Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said that Israel "will be forced" to launch a military operation in Gaza unless the situation on the borders is normalised after the recent exchange of fire with the Hamas movement, which controls the Strip.

The Iron Dome anti-missile system has reportedly intercepted numerous projectiles over southern Israel early Tuesday, shortly after the Israel Defence Forces announced on Twitter that Baha Abu al-Ata, a senior commander of the Islamic Jihad movement operating in the Gaza Strip, was killed as a result of an Israeli military strike on his home.

​According to reports, sirens also sounded in the city of Rishon LeTsiyon, Holon and Sderot and in the area surrounding the Gaza Strip.

The IDF spokesman said that the forces targeted al-Ata because he was "a ticking bomb" and was allegedly plotting "imminent" attacks on Israel.

Israel Radio said, citing senior military officials, that the IDF had managed to target the specific room where al-Ata was sleeping, and therefore claim they were able to avoid destroying  the entire building.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that the decision to target al-Ata was taken Sunday by the cabinet.

"Senior Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu al-Ata was targeted overnight in Gaza. He was responsible for many terrorist attacks and the firing of rockets at Israel in recent months and had intended to carry out imminent attacks. The IDF action was recommended by the IDF Chief-of-Staff and ISA Director and was approved by the Prime Minister and Defense Minister after it had been presented to – and approved by – the Security Cabinet", the prime minister's office tweeted.

The Islamic Jihad movement has issued a statement in which it mourns the deceased commander, al-Ata, who headed the military council of the Al-Quds Brigade, the military arm of the Islamic Jihad, and vows to avenge his death.

The Palestinian health ministry has meanwhile said that "a Palestinian man a woman were killed, and two more people were injured in an airstrike at a house in the eastern part of al-Shejaya in the eastern Gaza Strip".

While the IDF has yet to confirm or deny the interception of rockets, the military did urge residents of southern Israel to stay close to bomb shelters as the region was on high alert following the operation, The Times of Israel reported.

In a parallel development Reuters reported citing a statement issued by the militant group that a top Islamic Jihad commander, identified as Akram al-Ajouri, had allegedly been targeted in the Syrian capital of Damascus on Tuesday. The statement didn't immediately blame anyone for the incident; the IDF is said to have declined to comment.

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22:46 GMT 12.11.2019

Israeli Defence Forces announced their aircraft targeted a number of Islamic Jihad targets in the Gaza Strip, a short while ago. According to the military among the targets were several rocket launchers, as well as an underground infrastructure and operations rooms of the organization. In addition IDF said it targeted three operatives, who launched rockets at Israeli territory from the northern Gaza Strip.

21:16 GMT 12.11.2019

The commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, Baha Abu Al Ata, who was eliminated as a result of an Israeli strike at his home in the early hours of Tuesday, was plotting another attack in the coming days, Israel Defense Forces spokesman Jonathan Conricus said.

"Early in the morning, at 4 a.m., we had the opportunity to eliminate the terrorist. Based on our intelligence, we realized that he was a ticking bomb, he already had blood on his hands from previous attacks that he planned and perpetrated. ... We know that he was planning another attack in the coming days," the spokesman said during a phone briefing.

According to Conricus, Baha Abu Al Ata had a lot of experience and he intended to carry out a combined attack using different types of weapons and different techniques.

The PIJ commander was monitored for a long time, but the decision to eliminate him was made about a week ago, after which the Israeli army was waiting for a suitable opportunity to strike, he added.

Conricus also noted that Israel’s response to the massive shelling from Gaza was "restrained and calm."

"We are not trying to aggravate the situation," he said, noting that Israel was ready for "various scenarios."

A spokesman also said that he was unaware of any casualties in the IDF ranks.

20:46 GMT 12.11.2019

The death toll from Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip has grown to 10, the spokeswoman for the enclave's Health Ministry, Wafaa Yagi, said on Tuesday.

20:46 GMT 12.11.2019

The United Nations is concerned about the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip towards Israel that has led to casualties on both sides, UN spokesperson Farhan Haq said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

"We are concerned about reports of casualties on either side and beyond that, we are monitoring the situation very closely," Haq said.

18:24 GMT 12.11.2019

Israel’s new Defense Minister Naftali Bennet on Tuesday declared an 48-hour emergency in a 50 mile area south of the Gaza Strip after a day of fierce cross-border fire.

What the ministry described as a "special situation" will cover the so-called home front area, going as far as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It may be lifted sooner, according to the Yedioth Ahronoth daily.

17:25 GMT 12.11.2019

The European External Action Service (EEAS) said on Tuesday that the situation in Israel and the Gaza Strip should be resolved through political means to ensure civilians' safety.

"As the EU has consistently reiterated, only a political solution can put an end to these continuing cycles of violence," spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said in a statement.

The EU also condemned the ongoing airstrikes and called for "a rapid and complete de-escalation" to ensure security in the area and safeguard the public.

17:21 GMT 12.11.2019

Some 190 rockets were fired by Palestinian militants towards Israel from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday amid the escalation of Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Israeli Army press service reported.

"About 190 rockets have been launched since Tuesday morning from the Gaza Strip towards Israel. The Iron Dome system intercepted dozens of rockets in accordance with standards," the report said.

17:00 GMT 12.11.2019

Israel does not want to see the situation along the Gaza Strip's border worsen but stands ready to defend itself in case any attack, Aviv Kochavi, the chief of General Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), said on Tuesday, commenting on growing tensions after the killing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Group (PIJ) commander.

"We do not want escalation. But we understand that this is possible. We are ready to defend Israel from the sea, on land and in the air. We are ready to defend ourselves against a new attack that has already begun. We are ready to continue targeted operations. We do not want escalation, but we are ready for any scenario," Kochavi said at a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

16:55 GMT 12.11.2019
15:50 GMT 12.11.2019
15:01 GMT 12.11.2019
14:47 GMT 12.11.2019

Israel has banned Palestinians from fishing off the coast of the Gaza Strip, the head of Gaza's fishermen's union told Sputnik on Tuesday, after a massive exchange of cross-border fire.

"Israel told the Palestinian Association of Palestinian Fishermen that the sea was off-limits until further notice," Zakaria Baker said.

Israel has routinely responded to rocket launches from Gaza by reducing the permissible fishing area, which sustains the Palestinian exclave’s struggling population.

14:18 GMT 12.11.2019
14:07 GMT 12.11.2019
13:48 GMT 12.11.2019
13:46 GMT 12.11.2019
11:39 GMT 12.11.2019
10:42 GMT 12.11.2019

"Israel is not interested in escalation, but we will do everything required to protect ourselves. This could take time. What is needed is stamina and cool-headedness", the Israeli prime minister told reporters at military headquarters. 

10:03 GMT 12.11.2019
09:42 GMT 12.11.2019
09:17 GMT 12.11.2019
08:27 GMT 12.11.2019
08:19 GMT 12.11.2019

“In light of a new situational assessment, in the Shfela, Dan and Yarkon regions it is now permitted to go to work so long as there is a proper bomb shelter that can be reached,” the Israeli military said.

07:36 GMT 12.11.2019
07:34 GMT 12.11.2019

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi are set to address the nation from IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv at 10:30 a.m. (local time).

07:30 GMT 12.11.2019

According to The Times of Israel, citing Dar al-Hayat, an Arabic-language news site, the secretary-general of Islamic Jihad, Ziad al-Nakhala, said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had crossed “all the red lines”.

“We are going to war. Netanyahu has crossed all the red lines in the assassination of Al-Quds Brigades Commander Baha Abu al-Ata. We we will respond forcefully", he was quoted as saying.

06:41 GMT 12.11.2019
06:38 GMT 12.11.2019

"We stand behind the security forces, who have been working for the success of this morning’s operations for a long time. I know that they and the Israeli government that approved the operation, have Israel’s security, and only that, in their minds. This is no time for political squabbles, and those who do so bring no credit to themselves. It is the time to stop such statements immediately. Israeli citizens – please listen to the life-saving instructions of the IDF Home Front Command and take good care of yourselves", President Reuven Rivlin said.

06:19 GMT 12.11.2019
06:02 GMT 12.11.2019
05:50 GMT 12.11.2019
05:48 GMT 12.11.2019

“We are prepared for several days of battle, with an aerial defence shield, including in the center of the country,” The Times of Israel reported, citing an IDF spokesman as saying.

05:45 GMT 12.11.2019
05:42 GMT 12.11.2019

"The fight against terror is ongoing and requires moments in which difficult decisions must be made. The political echelon and the IDF made the right decision last night for all Israeli citizens and the residents of the South. Blue and White will support all appropriate decisions made for the security of the State and will put the security of all of its residents above politics. Every terrorist who threatens our security should know that he will end up dead", Blue and White Chairman Benny Gantz said, while commenting on the IDF operation.

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