The current round of Gaza fighting might be the result of more than merely the opportune elimination of a dangerous terrorist chief.
Back in September, just a week before Israel’s second election of the year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the stage in Ashdod to address a political rally. Moments into his speech, two rockets were fired at Ashdod and neighboring Ashkelon. Air raid sirens wailed, and Netanyahu was whisked away on live television.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Baha Abu al-Ata had orchestrated the carefully-timed attack, knowing that it would humiliate Netanyahu. Israel’s self-proclaimed “Mr. Security” had been chased off by one of Gaza’s primitive, homegrown rockets.
According to Channels 12 and 13, the prime minister was furious, and immediately consulted his generals on how to assassinate al-Ata at the earliest opportunity.
Israel had tried to kill al-Ata on numerous occasions in the past. And after a series of serious Islamic Jihad rocket attacks over the past year, he was already high on Israel’s kill list.
But, defense officials cautioned Netanyahu and his cabinet that assassinating al-Ata so close to the election would be ill-advised, likely leading to a major outbreak of hostilities.
For weeks, the issue was kicked back and forth between the cabinet and defense establishment until on November 3 the decision was finally made to take out al-Ata.
A week later, the IDF got the opportunity it was waiting for after learning that al-Ata and his wife were sleeping alone on one floor of a multi-floor house in Gaza City.
A precision missile strike destroyed al-Ata’s bedroom alone, leaving the rest of the house undamaged and avoiding any civilian casualties.
The arch-terrorist was dead, and the slight against Netanyahu had been avenged.