Gaza may see new op from Israel
A high-profile assassination signals a possible start to a Gaza operation. AFP photoIsrael killed a Hamas chief in a targeted airstrike yesterday, declaring the action to be only “the beginning” of an operation to strike at militant groups in the Gaza Strip that could include a ground offensive “if required.”
Senior Hamas chief Ahmed al-Jaabari was killed in an air strike on a car in Gaza City yesterday. Hamas said Ahmed Al-Jaabari, who ran the organization’s armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, died along with a passenger after their car was targeted by an Israeli missile. Four others also died in the strike. Israel’s domestic intelligence agency Shin Bet and the military also confirmed the operation.
“During a joint operation of the General Security Service and the army today, Ahmed Jaabari … was targeted,” a statement said.
“After the rocket fire of recent days, the chief of staff [Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz] has decided to authorize the targeting of terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others,” Leibovich told reporters. “This is the beginning.”
Six Palestinians including al-Jaabari were killed in more than 20 Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip yesterday, the Hamas interior ministry said.
“The Israeli occupation has carried out more than 20 air strikes on targets and headquarters of the police and security in the Gaza Strip. So far, six people have been killed, including commander Ahmed Jaabari,” interior ministry spokesman Islam Shahwan told Agence France-Presse. He said at least 25 people had been injured in the attacks
“The days we face in the south will, in my estimation, prove protracted,” Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai told Channel 2 TV after the deadly air strikes. “The home front must brace itself resiliently.”
Mordechai said Israel was both responding to a surge in Palestinian rocket salvoes earlier this week and trying to prevent Hamas and other Palestinian factions from building up their arsenals further.
Hamas vows revenge with ‘doors of hell’
Asked if Israel might send ground forces into Gaza, Mordechai said, “There are preparations, and if we are required to, the option of a entry by ground is available.”
Shin Bet said al-Jaabari “was a senior Hamas operative ... directly responsible for executing terror attacks.” “The purpose of this operation was to severely impair the command and control chain of the Hamas leadership, as well as its terrorist infrastructure,” it said, according to Reuters.
The killing of al-Jaabari sparked furious protests in Gaza City, with hundreds of members of Hamas and the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades chanting for revenge.
“The occupation has opened the doors of hell,” Hamas’s armed wing said. Israel has declared war on Gaza and they will bear the responsibility for the consequences,” Islamic Jihad said.