Muamen Abu-Daf, a senior member of an armed Islamist group inspired by Al Qaeda, was killed in an Israeli air strike on the Gaza Strip this morning, according to Palestinian officials.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said on its blog that its aircraft had targeted a "terrorist squad" in Gaza City as it prepared to fire rockets at Israel.
One Palestinian was killed and five others wounded in the attack, according to the Hamas administration's Health Ministry, which confirmed to Reuters that the man killed was Muamen Abu-Daf.
Abu-Daf was believed to belong to the Army of Islam, described by Reuters as "a loose network of Palestinian groups which profess allegiance to Al Qaeda." The group is also thought to include fundamentalist Salafi Muslims from Egypt.
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The IDF described Abu-Daf as "a senior operative in the Global Jihad terror movement" and accused him of involement in "numerous and varied terror attacks against Israeli citizens and IDF soldiers," including an alleged plot this week to attack southern Israel from the Sinai.
Israel claimed to have foiled the planned attack on Tuesday by carrying out two air strikes on the northern Gaza Strip, in which it said a Salafi militant was killed and ten people wounded.
Apparently in retaliation for that operation, seven short-range rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza over Wednesday and Thursday, according to the Israeli military. No casualties were reported. An armed Palestinian group, the Popular Resistance Committee, has claimed responsiblity, Reuters reported.
According to the BBC, Israel continues to hold the Hamas government responsible for any aggression against Israel from Gaza, despite evidence that many of the rocket attacks launched there are carried out by radical Salafists.
In its statement this morning, the Israeli military said:
"The IDF will not tolerate any attempt to harm Israeli civilians, and will operate against anyone who uses terror against the state of Israel. The Hamas terror organization is solely responsible for any terrorist activity emanating from the Gaza Strip."