Israeli Targeted Assassination of PIJ Commanders Touches off Latest Gaza Fighting Round

Israeli Targeted Assassination of PIJ Commanders Touches off Latest Gaza Fighting Round

Israel and the Palestinian Territories

Israeli Targeted Assassination of PIJ Commanders Touches off Latest Gaza Fighting Round 

Nearly three months ago, Khader Adnan — a Palestinian prisoner in Israel and a leader of an armed Palestinian group called Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) — began a hunger strike to protest his detention. Adnan, who was 45, died last week. Almost immediately, his death set off violence. That afternoon, PIJ launched more than 100 projectiles toward southern Israel. In response, Israeli officials began planning a counterassault. 

A week later, Israel launched operation missiles struck three apartments across the Gaza Strip within seconds of one another early Tuesday morning, killing three Islamic Jihad commanders as most Gazans were sleeping. The assault also killed ten civilians, according to Palestinian officials, including some of the targets’ wives and children. 

PIJ retaliated a day later, firing hundreds of rockets and shells toward Israel. Some reached the skies above the suburbs of Tel Aviv, though Israel’s air defense systems intercepted many of the rockets and prevented casualties. 

On Thursday, Israeli forces killed two more of the group’s commanders and continued to bombard PIJ weapons sites. Islamic Jihad fired rockets, one of which hit an apartment building in central Israel, killing one resident — the first Israeli casualty in this round of fighting. This morning the cross-border fighting resumed, with PIJ firing rockets toward the hills around Jerusalem.

Calm appeared to reign on Thursday night, giving hope that Egyptian, Qatari, and UN efforts to broker a ceasefire would bear fruit. However, fighting resumed by Friday morning as PIJ fired a barrage of rockets at Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip and, for the first time during this round of fighting, towards the Jerusalem area – shattering hopes for imminent calm. By Friday morning, Israel had walked away from ceasefire talks, and Israeli officials said the Israel Defense Forces was preparing a “significant response” to the barrage on Jerusalem.  

At least 31 Palestinians were killed in the hostilities, six of them children, according to Palestinian health officials. Israel said that PIJ’s own misfired rockets caused four of the deaths. 

Separately, today, Iran’s foreign minister spoke with the head of Hamas’ political bureau Ismael Haniyeh and PIJ’s secretary-general Ziyad al-Nakhalah. While PIJ has taken the lead in responding, Hamas has held back, given its broader equities on the ground. Throughout the week, Iran has been pressuring PIJ not to commit to a ceasefire as it seeks an “achievement” in the fighting.  

Lebanon and Hezbollah 

U.S. Authorities Take Down 13 Hezbollah-Affiliated Web Domains 

U.S. authorities have seized over a dozen website domains used by sanctioned associates, businesses, and charities of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, the Department of Justice announced Thursday. 

Washington has listed the Iran-backed group as a terrorist organization, and has slapped sanctions on its members, associates, and affiliated businesses and charities over the years.

The 13 seized website domains include multiple domains for the group’s al-Manar television, as well as URLs for top officials, deputy secretary general Naim Kassem, senior officials Ibrahim al-Sayed and Ali Damush, as well as affiliated charities the Martyrs’ Foundation and the Emdad Committee for Islamic Charity.

The websites are no longer accessible, and only an image from American authorities announcing that they have taken the domain name appears. Al-Manar’s main web address, a Lebanese domain, is still operating, as is the website for Hezbollah’s official newspaper, Al-Ahed. 

Germany Arrests Two Suspected Hezbollah Members Over ‘Recruiting Activities.’ 

German authorities announced on Wednesday the arrest of two suspected members of Hezbollah, which Germany designated a terror organization in 2020. The German Federal Prosecutor's office said in a statement that the pair were arrested in northern Germany on suspicions of recruiting and organizing activities for the Shiite militant group. They face charges of belonging to a foreign terrorist organization. The statement identified the suspects as Lebanese national Hassan M. and German-Lebanese dual citizen Abdul-Latif W.  

Hassan M. has been a member of the group’s Department for External Relations since 2016 and oversaw providing logistic and ideological support for Lebanese associations in northern Germany, according to the statement. Abdul-Latif W. is believed to have joined Hezbollah in 2004 “at the latest,” the statement estimated. He was a member of the Radwan Battalion, an elite unit of Hezbollah's military arm, which has sent troops to fight alongside President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria. The two suspects were due to appear before a judge later on Wednesday “who will decide whether to remand them in custody,” the statement added.  


Jordan Carries Out Airstrikes on Syria

Jordan carried out rare airstrikes on southern Syria on Monday, hitting an Iran-linked drugs factory and killing a smuggler allegedly behind big hauls across the two countries' border, local and intelligence sources told Reuters.