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February 2, 2020 7:45 pm

Report: Gaza Terror Groups Fear Israeli Retaliation After Rocket Attacks, Islamic Jihad Leaders Go Into Hiding

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group attend the funeral of 42-year-old Palestinian Mu’in al-Attar, who was killed in an internal explosion at an Islamic Jihad site in Gaza on Sept. 8, 2019. Photo: Hassan Jedi / Flash90.

Terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip are reportedly on high alert as tensions rise in Israel’s south after a series of rocket attacks over the weekend, with Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders going into hiding for fear of targeted assassinations.

Palestinian sources told leading Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot that the terror group’s leaders are changing their daily routines and moving clandestinely from place to place, fearing that the IDF will locate and kill them in retaliation for the spate of rocket attacks.

Islamic Jihad, which is primarily sponsored by Iran, is particularly fearful because the group has been responsible for the majority of the rocket attacks that have taken place recently, and believes the head of their “Gaza Brigade,” Khalil al-Bahtini, is the most likely target for an assassination attempt.

Bahtini belongs to a family affiliated with Islamic Jihad and has survived several Israeli assassination attempts in the past. Palestinian sources told Yediot that he has been groomed for a top post by the terror group from an early age, and was trained extensively by Iran.

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Three months ago, Israel killed the commander of Islamic Jihad’s “northern division,” Baha Abu al-Ata, further raising the terror group’s concerns.

The sources told Yediot that Islamic Jihad is not the only terror group that fears further Israeli retaliation. Hamas, which rules the Strip, has suffered far more significant losses in recent days than is widely known.

The IDF, say the sources, has struck two “strategic” underground installations used by the terror group, and the damage done to Hamas as a result was described as severe.

Hamas has enforced complete silence over the extent of the damage, and Israeli officials have described the retaliatory attacks in relatively banal terms.

Nonetheless, Hamas appears determined to continue allowing rocket fire by other terror factions in Gaza, as well as sponsoring the use of explosive balloons flown over the border into Israel.

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