Netanyahu: Eliminated terrorist was a 'ticking time bomb'

Watch: In Hebrew address, PM, IDF chief, Shin Bet chief speak out on targeting killing of Gaza terrorist, and wave of rocket attacks.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Flash 90

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.”

"The action to target him had been recommended by the Director of the ISA and the heads of the security agencies. It was discussed by the Security Cabinet in a series of in-depth meetings in recent months. The Security Cabinet unanimously approved the final decision to act in this manner ten days ago and authorized me to order that it be carried out at a time suggested by the IDF and the ISA. The IDF and the ISA indeed identified a date. They identified a unique window of opportunity to carry out the action, under optimal conditions, with maximum chance of success and minimal chance for hitting anyone uninvolved. In light of this, I decided to accept their joint recommendation and I approved the carrying out of the action."

The Prime Minister praised Israeli security forces for planning and executing the airstrike which eliminated Abu al-Ata early Tuesday morning, saying the strike proved Israel could reach its enemies anywhere.

"I congratulate the IDF and the ISA. I would also like to specially congratulate the Air Force and IDF Intelligence for the successful and precise operation."

"The basic assumption of all terrorists is identical. They think that they can attack civilians and concurrently hide behind civilians. However, we have proven that it is possible to attack murderers with minimal harm to innocents."

"Whoever thinks that it is possible to hurt our citizens and evade our long arm – is mistaken. We have proven that we can attack with surgical precision anywhere terrorists hide. Whoever hurts us – we will hurt them."

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."