Hamas says three senior commanders killed in Gaza

Hamas says three senior commanders killed in Gaza

GAZA CITY - Agence France-Presse
Hamas says three senior commanders killed in Gaza

Smoke, dust and debris rise after an Israeli strike hit Gaza City in the northern Gaza Strip, Aug. 20. AP Photo / Adel Hana

Three senior Hamas commanders and four children were among at least 15 Palestinians killed in Gaza Thursday as Israel stepped up air strikes on day 45 of the bloody conflict.

The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades identified the three as Mohammed Abu Shamala, Raed al-Atar and Mohammed Barhum. Witnesses said the strike, which took place in the southern city of Rafah on the Egyptian border, levelled a four-storey family home in Rafah.

The deadly raid strike came after the wife and infant son of the Brigades' top military leader, Mohammed Deif, were killed in an Israeli strike on a multi-storey building in Gaza City late Aug. 19.

On Aug. 20, the Brigades said Deif had escaped the attack and warned foreign airlines to halt flights into Tel Aviv, vowing no let up in its six-week war with Israel. Emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said eight Palestinians were killed in pre-dawn air strikes on Aug. 21 - seven in Rafah and another in Nusseirat refugee camp in central Gaza.
The strike in Beit Lahiya killed a man and a 13-year-old boy, while five people, including three children died in Gaza City, he said, without giving their ages.

As well as the 15 killed in air strikes, another person in Nusseirat camp died of injuries sustained earlier in the conflict, Qudra said.        

The latest deaths bring to 2,065 the number of Palestinians who have been killed during six weeks of fighting between Israel and Hamas.        

The UN says around three-quarters of the victims in Gaza are civilians. Sixty-seven people have died on the Israeli side.