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Video: Gaza rocket hits Israeli highway

Gan Yavne (Hebrew: גַּן יַבְנֶה) is a town in central Israel, located adjacent to the city of Ashdod. Gan Yavne was founded in 1931 and achieved local council status in 1950. It lies east of the Tel-Aviv–Ashkelon highway, and is bordered to the west by Ashdod, to the north by Gederot Regional Council, and to the east and south by Be’er Tuvia Regional Council.

The houses in Gan Yavne are either villas or cottages, and it has a modern village-esque ambience.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi, and Shin Bet internal security chief Nadav Argaman made public statements Tuesday afternoon, addressing the elimination of a senior Gaza terrorist and the ensuing wave of rocket attacks on central and southern Israel.

In a televised live address, Netanyahu said Baha Abu al-Ata, the Islamic Jihad terrorist eliminated in a targeted strike in the Gaza Strip Tuesday morning, was a “ticking time bomb” who had carried out numerous attacks on Israel in the past, and continued to threaten Israeli civilians and security personnel.

“Over the last year, this arch-terrorist was behind most of the terrorism emanating from the Gaza Strip. He initiated and planned many terror attacks. He fired hundreds of rockets at the [Israeli] border towns. He was a ticking time bomb.”

Following Netanyahu’s televised statement, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi spoke, declaring that while Israel “was not interested” in escalations with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, the IDF is prepared for them, adding that “more eliminations” of terrorists could be undertaken.

“We are prepared for escalations, even though we do not wish for them. But if we need to, we will move to targeted assassinations.”

Shin Bet internal security agency chief Nadav Argaman touted Israeli intelligence operations, which he said made the pinpoint strike possible.

“This elimination was made possible as a result of very intense intelligence work. It was a very precise strike that only hit the intended target, without harming innocent civilians.”

“The elimination was at the best time, in terms of operational considerations. Last night, all of the stars aligned.”

The 42-year-old chief of Islamic Jihad’s Al Quds Brigades’ Gaza Strip branch was considered one of the most radical terrorists in Gaza – even within Islamic Jihad – Abu Al-Ata was seen as a rising force within the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave, due in part to his close ties with Tehran, and the decline in Hamas’ popularity in Gaza.

Under Abu Al-Ata’s watch, Islamic Jihad in Gaza has undertaken to obtain longer-range, more powerful rockets for its attacks on southern – and even central Israel.

A string of rocket attacks on Israel this year have been attributed to Islamic Jihad’s Al Quds Brigades – and Abu al-Ata.