Israeli strike kills Islamic Jihad commander Bahaa Abu el-Atta in Gaza

Israeli airstrikes Tuesday killed a prominent senior commander of Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian militant group in the Gaza Strip, potentially threatening a major escalation of Israel’s of cross-border violence with Iran-backed Palestinians. 

Bahaa Abu el-Atta and his wife died overnight following an airstrike on a house in Shajaiyah, in Gaza City, Israel’s prime minister’s office said. Israel’s Defense Forces, said Abu el-Atta was the militant group’s top commander in Gaza and had orchestrated several recent attacks against Israel. Islamic Jihad vowed revenge.

Separately, in Syria, officials there Tuesday said that an Israeli airstrike in the capital Damascus targeted another Islamic Jihad commander named Akram al-Ajouri.

Al-Ajouri was not harmed, but the confrontation risks another round of hostilities with Iranian-backed militants who operate in Syria. Syria’s state-run news agency said Israeli warplanes fired three missiles at al-Ajouri’s home, killing his son and granddaughter.

The Israeli military had no comment.

Islamic Jihad gets its funding, weapons and guidance from Iran. It often carries out attacks independently of Hamas, the larger militant group that controls Gaza. 

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