Rockets Follow Assassination of Gaza Terror Chief

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Gaza-based Palestinians barraged southern Israel with rocket, missile and mortar fire over the weekend following the targeted assassination of a terrorist leader.

The IAF retaliated against the terror infrastructure in Gaza, killing 17 Palestinians, the majority known terrorists. Over the weekend, four Israelis were injured in the attacks, one seriously.

On Friday, IAF aircraft scored a direct hit on the car carrying Popular Resistance Committee Secretary-General Zuhir al-Qaisi and senior PRC operative Mahmoud Hanani, who were planning a massive cross-border attack on Israel from the Egyptian Sinai.

Hanani, al-Qaisi's son-in-law, was released during the prisoner exchange for IDF soldier Gilad Shalit last October.

At Sunday morning's cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel had "collected a high price" from the PRC, calling al-Qaisi an "arch terrorist who organized many attacks against the State of Israel." Netanyahu said "time would tell" the extent to which the IDF operation disrupted the PRC's latest scheme.

Since Friday, more than 130 rockets have been fired at southern Israel.

In August 2011, the PRC masterminded a multi-pronged cross-border attack from the Sinai, which left eight Israelis dead.

According to Jerusalem Post military correspondent Yaakov Katz, the decision to target al-Qaisi was based to a great extent on lessons learned last August.

The IDF knew -- as it did then -- the PRC was planning an attack from the Sinai. This time, Israel's top military brass chose a preemptive strike, knowing the response would be several days of rocket barrages.

Iron Dome anti-rocket batteries deployed in Ashkelon, Ashod and Beersheva identified and intercepted 90 percent of the rockets fired from Gaza.

Despite the high cost of the operation -- $50,000 for each Iron Dome interception -- Netanyahu said Israel would "do everything in our power to expand the deployment of this system."

"In the end, the strongest force at our disposal is the fortitude of the residents, of the council heads, of Israelis and of the government," Netanyahu said, adding that "with this combination, along with the necessary fortitude, we will overcome these terrorist threats around us."

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