May 9, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel Kills Three Islamic Jihad Terror Chiefs in Gaza

May 9, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel Kills Three Islamic Jihad Terror Chiefs in Gaza

Latest Developments

Israeli forces killed three Islamic Jihad commanders in surprise strikes in the Gaza Strip in the early morning of May 9, retaliating for the Iranian-backed terrorist group’s repeated rocket attacks in recent weeks. With the terrorist group swearing to avenge the deaths of Tariq Izzeldin, Jihad Ghanam, and Khalil Bahtini, communities in southern Israel were again put on high alert, even as residents hoped to celebrate the Jewish festival of Lag Ba’omer. The Israeli military codenamed the strikes Operation Shield and Arrow, communicating both the precision of the strikes and their defensive necessity.

Expert Analysis

“Two of the eliminated Islamic Jihad terror commanders were involved in strategic and tactical cooperation with Hamas or with terrorist units in the West Bank. This suggests that Israel has acted to head off wider hostilities against it. What has been abundantly clear in recent weeks: Iran has been orchestrating multi-front attacks on Israel, using all the proxies available, even as the regime in Tehran readies a potential nuclear weapons breakout.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“Rather than be dragged into a spiraling escalation immediately after Islamic Jihad’s barrages of last week or of April 7, Israel waited for the right moment to hit the appropriate targets. The fact that Islamic Jihad was the focus raises the question of whether Hamas will join in whatever vendetta might now follow — and whether another Gaza mini-war is looming. Hamas has previously sat out or offered only tacit support for Islamic Jihad provocations. But Iran will be exerting pressure on it to get off the fence.” — Joe Truzman, Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

The Targets

Bahitini was a senior Islamic Jihad commander who had been in charge of the recent rocket attacks against Israel and served as a liaison with the group’s politburo, the Israeli military said. Ghanam had command responsibilities that included weapons and money transfers between Islamic Jihad and Gaza’s ruling Islamist terrorist group, Hamas. Izzeldin coordinated between Islamic Jihad cadres in Gaza and in the West Bank and was “planning multiple terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians,” the military said.

Iran-Backed West Bank Chaos,” by Joe Truzman

Why Palestinian Islamic Jihad Rockets Kill So Many Palestinians,” by Mark Dubowitz and Behnam Ben Taleblu

Assessing Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s Military Capabilities After the August 2022 Conflict,” FDD Flash Brief


Israel Jihadism Palestinian Politics