Baha Abu al-Ata, 42, the commander of Al-Quds Brigades — the Palestinian resistance movement of Islamic Jihad’s military wing — and his wife were martyred during an Israeli aerial assault against their home in Gaza City in the blockaded Gaza Strip on Tuesday.
The Israeli army confirmed the airstrike afterwards, saying it had taken place against Gaza’s Shejaiya area. The operation, it added, had been recommended by the Chief of Staff and the Shin Bet domestic security service, and approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Iran: Israeli war criminals must be punished
Iran on Tuesday robustly condemned Israel’s assassination of Ata, urging legal action against Israeli “war criminals” responsible for such an act of terror.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said “the occupiers of Palestine have to be subjected to legal proceedings and punishment at international tribunals as war criminals” over the assassination.
The Iranian official denounced the silence and inaction of international organizations and circles in the face of the Israeli regime’s acts of aggression and terrorism.
“Unfortunately, on the back of the support lent to this bloodthirsty and infanticidal regime, crimes and assassinations against the Palestinian people and fighters have continued both inside and outside the occupied territories.”
Moussavi was apparently referring to the unconditioned backing provided to Israel by its closest ally the United States — which routinely casts its veto against the United Nations’ resolutions issued against the regime — as well as other instances of support given to Tel Aviv by its other allies.
The spokesman urged regional and international bodies to act on their humanitarian and legal responsibility by throwing their weight behind the defenseless and oppressed people of Palestine and helping stop Israel’s acts of terror.
He also hailed the Palestinian people’s “legitimate and heroic” struggle, and considered unity and resistance to be the only choices they can adopt in the face of the Israeli usurpers.
Ramallah slams Israel’s ‘heinous crime’
Meanwhile, the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority condemned Ata’s assassination as a “hideous crime” in a statement published on the official Palestinian News Agency WAFA.
The Authority “called on the international community to provide protection for the Palestinian people everywhere.”
Saeb Erekat, the secretary-general of the umbrella group of the Palestine Liberation Organization, similarly condemned the assassination, the Palestinian Wafa news agency reported. He said Tel Aviv “bears full responsibility for the consequences of this crime.”
Khaled al-Batsh, an Islamic Jihad leader, addressed crowds during a funeral ceremony for Ata soon after the targeted killing, warning that Netanyahu, Israeli forces, and illegal settlers in the occupied territories would pay “a hefty price for these crimes.”
“Today, we tell our people, the only option available is to face [this aggression],” he added.
Hazem Qassem, spokesman for Islamic Jihad’s fellow Gaza-based resistance movement of Hamas, called Israel’s targeted killing a “continuation of Israeli aggression towards the Palestinian people.”
“Our people are being targeted all over, inside and outside Palestine,” he told Al Jazeera Arabic. “The attack reflects Israel’s unsuccessful tactics…Assassinations cannot and will not put an end to resistance, and are not enough to stop Palestinians from supporting the cause,” Qassem said.
“After every attack, the will of the resistance grows and becomes more persistent,” he stressed, adding that Hamas was coordinating a response to the “occupation’s crimes.”
Yemen: Ata’s killing ‘treacherous, cowardly’
Meanwhile, the Political Bureau of the Yemeni popular defense movement of Ansarullah, which has invariably voiced support for the Palestinian cause, called the assassination “treacherous and cowardly” and hailed al-Ata as a “heroic commander,” Yemen’s al-Masirah television network reported.
It lamented that Tel Aviv would not have dared to stage the attack, had it not been emboldened by some Arab and Persian Gulf regimes’ rush over the recent years to normalize relations with the occupying regime.
The movement has been defending Yemen against a 2015-present invasion led by Saudi Arabia, one of the Arab states, which has been trying rapprochement with Israel.
Ansarullah also condemned another attack by the Israeli regime against Akram al-Ajouri, another Islamic Jihad figure, in Syria. That assault failed to assassinate the resistance figure, but claimed the life of his son.
The Yemeni group also praised the Palestinian resistance fighters for their launching a retaliatory rocket barrage into the occupied lands after the assassination, and their defense of the Palestinian “dignity, freedom, independence, and sanctities.”
It also reiterated the Yemeni people’s alignment with the Palestinian resistance in all the steps and deterrent measures they take against “this brutal Zionist arrogance,” al-Masirah added.
Even Arab members of the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament) slammed Netanyahu for giving the green light for the operation, saying he had brought about another bout of escalation in Gaza to ensure “his political survival.”
“The man who lost consecutive elections will leave the ground burned in a desperate attempt to stay in his position,” Ayman Odeh, one legislator, said on Twitter. “For a decade, he (Netanyahu) worked every morning to prolong the occupation and undermine prospects for peace and this is what he did today as well,” he added.
Lawmaker Walid Taha warned that Netanyahu’s policy of escalation would drag the region into a “real disaster.”
“What is happening threatens the security of the entire region and the lives of millions of innocent people in Gaza Strip,” he said.”Israel is in danger as a result of Netanyahu’s aggressive policies.”
Europeans mum on Israel’s targeted killing
Withholding any comment critical of the targeting killing, the European Union, meanwhile, only called for a “rapid and complete de-escalation.”
The bloc even blasted the tit-for-tat rocket launches from Gaza, saying, it was “totally unacceptable and must immediately stop.”
The tone was echoed by German Ambassador to Israel Susanne Wasum-Rainer, who limited her reactions to expression of concern about the safety of Israelis in the aftermath of the assassination.
Wasum-Rainer said she was following “with great concern the evolving situation after sirens heard this morning in various cities in Israel, and collecting all relevant pieces of information.” She added that she hoped “that there won’t be injuries. Stay safe.”
Embassies of some other Tel Aviv-aligned states, including those of Spain, Poland, Malta, and the Greek Cyprus, similarly urged caution in light of the retaliatory rocket attacks.
The United Kingdom also simply issued a travel advisory.