A spokesperson for the Israeli Defense Forces told Fox News that its operation against the Palestinian Islamic Jihadist (PIJ) terror group on Tuesday was a success.
Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari issued a warning to the PIJ during the interview after describing its operation as a success.
“We targeted Islamic Jihad terrorist members, specifically the ones that were unstabilizing the area. We have killed them in the [first] minutes of the operation. They’re all dead,” Hagari said. “The goals of this operation have been achieved in the first early seconds of the operation.”
“We are targeting Islamic Jihad and they have paid a big price on their actions, and they will keep on paying the price for their actions. Islamic Jihad is a terrorist organization founded 100% by Iran. Iran is a negative actor in the region, but we have targeted Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip in this operation because of the stability of the area,” he added.
Hagari’s comments come after Israeli forces killed 15 people in Gaza on Tuesday with a series of airstrikes. Jahed Ahnam, the secretary of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad military council; Khalil Bahitini, the commanding officer of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror organization’s Northern Gaza Division; and Tareq Izzeldeen, the Islamic Jihad’s intermediary between its Gaza and West Bank members were killed in the attack.
The airstrikes also resulted in the deaths of civilians, including three women and four children, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
The IDF acknowledged the civilian casualties, stating that while their strikes were aimed exclusive at “PIJ targets,” those targets “act in very crowded civilian populations.”
Hagari told Fox News that “we have no other way to fight against terror, especially Islamic jihad that is hiding and hiding with women and children and is acting around popular population areas.”
“Gaza is one of the crowded urban areas in the world, and it makes it harder. But we keep on doing it the best accurate way that we can and the best moral way that we can. But we have to protect our own civilians,” he said.
After the operation, Gaza militants fired rockets into Israel on Wednesday.
According to the IDF, 333 rockets crossed over to Israel, and 153 were intercepted.
When asked about talks of a potential cease-fire, Hagari said that Israel will respond to any attacks from Gaza, stating, “until there’s a formal declaration of a cease-fire. It’s not formal.”
Fox News’ Anders Hagstrom contributed to this report.