Top Hamas Commander Killed in Israeli Strike
by Scott Bobb November 14, 2012
Ahmed al-Jaabari, a top commander of the Islamist Hamas militant group, was killed in an Israeli air strike Wednesday in Gaza, shattering a tacit cease-fire that lasted less than a day.
Jaabari died after an Israeli missile hit the car he was traveling in on a street in Gaza City. Israeli news media said Jabaari’s son was also killed, but there was no immediate confirmation. Palestinians say in addition to Jaabari, the airstrikes killed seven other people, including two children.
Israel's Shin Bet intelligence service said Jaabari was killed because of his "decade-long terrorist activity." He was one of Israel's most wanted men.
Exchanges of rocket fire and aerial bombardments between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza resumed Wednesday evening after the attack.
Television footage broadcast by Israel's government station showed Palestinian rescue workers struggling to extinguish flames engulfing a car on a Gaza street. The passenger compartment appeared to have been destroyed by the blast.
The Israeli military said Jaabari was targeted because he served in the upper echelons of the Hamas command and was responsible for terrorist attacks against Israel in the past number of years.
The Israeli government announced that the killing is the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. Israel said it will be targeting sites in Gaza where mortars and rockets are stored.
Hamas warned that Israel that "the occupation has opened the gates of hell on itself."
Israel leaders and Palestinian militants in Gaza Tuesday had tacitly agreed to a cease-fire after four days of cross-border bombardments in which seven Gaza Palestinians were killed, and civilians in southern Israel were wounded.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, visiting troops near the Gaza border on Tuesday, issued a strong warning. He said the matter has not ended and that Israel would decide how and when to act.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, visiting wounded at a local hospital, had indicated the armed factions in Gaza would respect the cease-fire if Israel did.
Four days of cross-border rocket assaults and air strikes began Saturday when a rocket fired from Gaza struck an Israeli military vehicle near the border, wounding four soldiers.
Subsequent Israeli air attacks on Gaza killed three Palestinian fighters and four civilians.
Eight Israeli civilians were wounded as militants in Gaza fired more than 100 rockets into southern Israel over the following days.
Egyptian security officials reportedly had mediated the cease-fire.
Some Israeli officials had called for a resumption of assassinations of Hamas leaders or a military operation into Gaza in order to weaken the group that took power in Gaza five years ago.
Israel invaded the enclave nearly four years ago in an operation during which 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed.
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