May 4, 2024 | Flash Brief

October 7-Linked Palestinian Islamic Jihad Commander Killed in Rafah

May 4, 2024 | Flash Brief

October 7-Linked Palestinian Islamic Jihad Commander Killed in Rafah

Latest Developments

An Israeli airstrike on Rafah on May 4 killed a senior commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the Israeli military reported. Warplanes bombed an apartment used by Aiman Zaarab, a PIJ veteran based in the southern Gazan city, and two other members of the terrorist group. Zaarab’s killing came two days after a senior PIJ terrorist in the West Bank city of Tulkarm, Ahmed Abu al-Foul, was killed in an exchange of gunfire with Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces.

According to Israel’s security agency Shin Bet, Zaarab orchestrated PIJ attacks on Kibbutz Sufa and the Sufa Israel Defense Forces (IDF) base during the Hamas-led, cross-border assault on October 7. Zaarab also headed up PIJ’s preparations for ground combat within southern Gaza, in the event that Israel carries out its promised sweep of Rafah to destroy the remaining four Hamas battalions there.

Interviewed on Israel’s Channel 12 TV, Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said the Rafah operation would happen “very soon” and that, in anticipation, two IDF divisions had been positioned on the border opposite Rafah.

Expert Analysis

“Even amidst public misgivings sounded by the Biden administration about a Rafah operation, the Israelis are doing what needs to be done to make it happen. This targeted killing eliminated an October 7-linked terrorist and significant player in the terrorist defense of Rafah — a man who presumably would also have thought nothing of preventing Palestinian civilians from evacuating in advance of the fighting.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“Often overlooked are the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip that provide material support to Hamas; chief among them is Islamic Jihad. While targeting senior leaders and commanders of these supporting groups may not entirely change the course of the conflict, it does reduce their ability to threaten Israeli troops.”  Joe Truzman, Senior Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

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