Netanyahu says Israel not want escalation in Gaza

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that his country is not interested in further escalation, hours after Israeli airstrikes killed a senior Jihad commander in Gaza, triggering barrages of rockets at Israeli cities.

In a joint statements with Israeli army Chief Aviv Kohavi and Chief of the Shin Bet security service Nadav Argaman, Netanyahu said the killing was “necessary.”

Baha Abu al-Atta, a senior commander with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, was “the main perpetrator of terror in the Gaza Strip,” Netanyahu told reporters in Tel Aviv, saying “he was a ticking bomb.”

Netanyahu and Kohavi said that Israel does not want further escalation, but is ready to respond in case the Islamic Jihad will continue the rockets fire.

“We have no interest in escalation but will respond when necessary,” Netanyahu said, adding that “it might take time until the current operation will be concluded.”

In two airstrikes on Tuesday morning before dawn, Israeli forces killed Abu al-Atta while he was sleeping at home in Gaza city.

His wife was killed too and three other persons were injured.

By noon, the Islamic Jihad fired at least 75 retaliatory rockets that reached deep into Israel, triggering warning sirens in major cities, including Tel Aviv, Israel’s financial capital.