- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 12, 2019

JERUSALEM (AP) - The Latest on Israeli airstrikes on Tuesday (all times local):

10:50 p.m.

Israel has targeted two senior commanders from the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad, killing one in the Gaza Strip and missing the second in Syria as it steps up its battle against Iran and its proxies across the region.


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Bahaa Abu el-Atta and his wife died as they slept in their home in eastern Gaza. That set off the heaviest fighting in months between Israel and Islamic Jihad, an Iranian-backed militant group that is even more hard-line than Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

Gaza militants fired scores of rockets into Israel throughout the day, some reaching as far as Tel Aviv. Israeli warplanes responded with a series of airstrikes on Islamic Jihad targets. Eight others were killed, including at least seven militants.



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6:20 p.m.

Jordan’s foreign ministry is condemning an Israeli strike in the Gaza Strip that killed a top militant commander.

The Israeli strike triggered a barrage of rocket fire from Gaza and set off the fiercest fighting between Israel and Gaza militants in months.

In a statement Tuesday, Daifallah al-Fayez, a spokesman for the Jordanian foreign ministry, blamed Israel for the ensuing escalation in violence.

He said the fighting “will only increase tension and violence, deepen the environment of despair and promote extremist agendas in the region.”

He called for Israel and the Palestinians to return to negotiations, saying that talks, along with an end to the Israeli-Egyptian blockade on the territory, could bring a solution to Gaza’s woes.

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5:05 p.m.

Egyptian officials say Cairo is attempting to de-escalate tensions between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza amid the worst bout of fighting there in recent months.

The officials say Egypt’s general intelligence agency has stepped up communications and has “opened channels” with the U.S. and the European Union. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

Egypt often acts as a mediator between Israel and Gaza militants, and brokered a cease-fire deal in May.

That deal appeared threatened Tuesday after a pre-dawn Israeli airstrike in Gaza killed a senior Islamic Jihad commander.

Militants in Gaza have responded with rockets fired into Israel, and the Israeli military has carried out a number of airstrikes in Gaza.

- SAMY MAGDY in Cairo

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3:05 p.m.

The Israeli military says it has carried out a number of airstrikes in Gaza, bombing a series of Islamic Jihad targets.

It said the strikes hit a training camp and underground weapons manufacturing and storage sites.

Gaza’s Health Ministry says a 25-year-old Palestinian has been killed in the ongoing airstrikes. It was not immediately clear whether he was a militant.

In all, four Palestinians have been killed in Tuesday’s fighting, the worst bout in recent months.

It was sparked when Israel killed a senior Islamic Jihad commander and his wife in a pre-dawn airstrike in Gaza.

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12:40 p.m.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the Islamic Jihad commander killed in an Israeli airstrike Gaza was planning a new attack.

Netanyahu says Bahaa Abu el-Atta was the driving force behind recent attacks against Israel and was a “ticking time bomb.”

The Israeli strike that killed the 42-year-old Abu el-Atta and his wife set off a furious barrage of dozens of rocket attacks that reached as far north as the Tel Aviv heartland. Islamic Jihad vowed further revenge. Israel reportedly targeted an Islamic Jihad commander in Syria, also on Tuesday.

The pair of strikes looked to escalate Israel’s confrontation with Iran and its proxies across the region and threatening to unleash another devastating round of cross-border violence with Palestinian militants. Netanyahu has issued a series of warnings recently about Iranian aggression.

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12:05 p.m.

The European Union is condemning the barrage of rocket attacks reaching deep into Israel after Israeli airstrikes targeted senior Islamic Jihad commanders in Gaza and Syria.

The 28-nation bloc said in a statement that “the firing of rockets on civilian populations is totally unacceptable and must immediately stop.”

In eastern Gaza, the Israeli strike killed Bahaa Abu el-Atta and his wife and, as a result, Islamic Jihad vowed revenge.

The EU called for “a rapid and complete de-escalation” and stressed that it “is now necessary to safeguard the lives and security of Palestinian and Israeli civilians.”

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11:40 a.m.

A rocket fire from Gaza has hit a residential home in southern Israel. No one was hurt.

The military says the rocket penetrated the roof of the home in Netivot on Tuesday morning.

It was one of more than 50 rockets the military said were fired from Gaza following Israel’s killing of a senior Islamic Jihad commander in a pre-dawn airstrike.

Air raid sirens sounded as far north as Tel Aviv, with strikes reported in some of its suburbs. In one instance, a rocket landed on a highway, narrowly missing a passing vehicle.

The military said some 20 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system.

Israel’s Magen David Adom service says it treated one person for shrapnel wounds and several dozen who were either injured fleeing rockets or suffered from stress symptoms.

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10:40 a.m.

Israel’s military has ordered residents across much of the country to stay indoors and avoid large gatherings for the rest of the day.

The instructions issued on Tuesday indicate that the military expects heavy rocket fire out of Gaza to continue for some time.

People were told to stay indoors until Wednesday in the announcement.

The military’s Home Front Command also canceled school and university studies and “non-essential” jobs throughout southern Israel. It limited public gatherings to no more than 100 people in closed spaces.

It canceled classes and limited public gatherings to 300 people in the Tel Aviv area, which is farther from the Gaza border. It said non-essential work could continue but only if near a bomb shelter.

Gaza militants have fired dozens of rockets into Israel following the death of an Islamic Jihad leader in an Israeli airstrike.

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10:30 a.m.

The father of an Islamic Jihad commander killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza says his son had been more cautious in recent days and was taking additional precautionary measures.

Salim Abu el-Atta says his son, Bahaa, had disappeared for a week this month at a time when his name was circulating in Israeli media blaming him for a barrage of rockets fired into Israel on Nov. 2.

The father says he saw his son “the first time in a week last night, when he came to sleep at home.” Salim Abu el-Atta spoke as he was receiving condolences from other mourners ahead of his son’s funeral later Tuesday.

He says: “It’s a crime to bomb him when he is asleep at his home.”

He also says his son was a father of five. Born in 1977, he says Bahaa joined the Islamic Jihad at the age of 16, didn’t go to college but “devoted himself to the resistance.”

The father also confirmed that his daughter-in-law, Asmaa, was killed alongside her husband. The family car, a black Kia with tainted windows parked outside the family home, was destroyed by debris from the airstrike.

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8:40 a.m.

Gaza’s Hamas rulers are threatening to avenge the targeted killing of a top commander from the smaller Islamic Jihad group in the coastal strip.

The militant Hamas movement said that Israel “bears all the consequences and results from this dangerous targeting and escalation.”

It adds that the attack on Tuesday morning “will not pass without a punishment.”

With Egyptian, Qatari and U.N. efforts, Hamas has mostly abided by an unofficial truce with Israel in recent months.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Johad in Gaza says a member of its leadership survived an Israeli airstrike in Damascus earlier in the morning. The group says the son of Akram al-Ajouri was killed.

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8:20 a.m.

Syria’s state-run news agency says Israel has struck a residential building in Damascus housing a commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group with two missiles, killing two people.

SANA says six people were also wounded in the early morning attack on Tuesday on the building in the Mezzeh area of Damascus. It says a third missile landed in a suburb of the capital, in Daraya, near Damascus.

It was not immediately clear if the Islamic Jihad commander, identified as Akram al-Ajouri, was among those killed in the attack. Al-Ikhbariya channel said al-Ajouri’s son was among those killed.

The attack in Damascus coincided with the killing by Israel of a senior Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza in a rare targeted killing that threatened to unleash a round of cross-border violence with Palestinian militants.

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5:15 a.m.

The Israeli military says it has killed an Islamic Jihad commander in an airstrike at his Gaza City home.

It’s a rare resumption of pinpointed targeting that threatens a new cross-border round of violence with Palestinian militants.

The Islamic Jihad confirmed that Bahaa Abu el-Atta, the commander, was killed.

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