JERUSALEM, Israel -- Islamic Jihad swore to avenge the deaths of two Gaza-based terrorists behind a series of recent rocket attacks on southern Israel.
Ahmed Za'anin, 21, a commander with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and his cousin, Mahmoud Yousef Za'anin, 23, were killed in a targeted airstrike Tuesday.
"The blood of martyrs will not be in vain but a curse that chases the occupier everywhere," the official Palestinian Authority's Ma'an News Agency quoted the terror cell.
Following the airstrike, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon warned Hamas it would pay a "heavy price" if it doesn't rein in rocket fire and other terror attacks against Israel.
"We will not hesitate to continue to act with force to hit those who are threatening our security, and we will do that with all the methods and tools at our disposal," Ya'alon said.
The Israel Defense Forces issued a statement on Za'anin's terror record.
"Among [Za'anin's] most recent attack was launching of rockets during former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's funeral," the statement read. "Since 2009, Za'anin, with the cooperation of other terror bodies in the Gaza Strip, has endorsed numerous attacks, such as sniping attacks and detonating explosive devices against IDF soldiers."
Since last Thursday's rocket attacks on Ashkelon, the IDF has been on heightened alert status, especially along the border with Gaza.
On Monday evening, the Salafist-affiliated Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, operating primarily in the Sinai Peninsula, claimed responsibility for two Grad-type rockets fired at Eilat, Israel's southernmost resort city.
"Our war with the enemy in Egypt will not distract us from the war with the nation's first enemy, Israel," YNet quoted a statement by the terror group. "With Allah's help, from us the Jews will see only injury."
In the first few weeks of the New Year, Gaza-based terrorists have fired several dozen rockets on southern Israeli communities.
Earlier this week, the IDF deployed Iron Dome anti-missile batteries on the outskirts of Beersheba and the port city of Ashdod.