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Report: Netanyahu wanted revenge for rocket forcing him offstage before election

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen during a meeting with Russia's Putin in Moscow, Russia on April 4, 2019 [kremlin.ru]
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Moscow, Russia on April 4, 2019 [kremlin.ru]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly determined to kill Islamic Jihad commander Bahaa Abu Al-Ata after rocket fire forced the premier off stage at an election rally shortly before September's election, reported the Times of Israel.

On 10 September, two rockets were fired at Ashdod and nearby Ashkelon from Gaza, "triggering sirens that forced Netanyahu to abort a campaign speech that was being broadcast live". In scenes caught on film, the prime minister "was rushed off the stage to take cover".

The article, citing reports on Channel 12 and Channel 13, claimed "Netanyahu was furious and immediately pressured senior security officials to approve Abu al-Ata's assassination."

At the time, the reports said, Israeli military officials "had reservations", on the basis that it could "risk an all-out war before the election", and "the operation was therefore postponed".

According to the article, the military began preparing for the extrajudicial execution of Abu Al-Ata, which was then approved by the security cabinet on 3 November.

According to Channel 13, the killing was carried out by a jet firing a missile "through the window of Abu al-Ata's bedroom while he and his wife were sleeping, killing both".

The Times of Israel report said that Israel had previously tried to kill the Islamic Jihad fighter in 2012. In addition, former defence minister Avigdor Lieberman has claimed this week that he had previously wanted to assassinate Abu Al-Ata, but Netanyahu had refused.

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