Israel attack kills top Hamas leader

November 15, 2012 - 4:25:36 am

Palestinians taking part in a candle vigil in support of the people of the Gaza Strip and against Israeli air strikes, in front of the Church of the Nativity at the West Bank city of Bethlehem, yesterday.

GAZA CITY: Israel yesterday assassinated a top Hamas military commander in a strike on Gaza City, prompting outrage from militants who said the Jewish state had opened “the gates of hell.” The killing came on the eve of the Islamic new year— 1434— which begins today.
Israel confirmed the killing of Ahmed Jaabari in an air strike on a car in Gaza City, and warned it was only the start of an operation to target militant groups across the Hamas-controlled territory. It also warned it was prepared to launch a ground operation “if necessary.” The assassination followed a weekend of bloodshed, which saw Israel kill seven Palestinians as militants fired more than 120 rockets over the border. Jaabari’s death sparked furious protests in Gaza City, with hundreds of members of Hamas and its armed wing, the Ezzedine Al Qassam Brigades, chanting for revenge in and around the Shifa hospital where his body was taken.
Jaabari’s bodyguard was also killed in the strike, a spokesman for the Hamas-run Interior Ministry said, indicating that another four people had also been killed as Israel pounded the territory with more than 20 strikes. AFP

Egypt recalls envoy in Israel over Gaza killing

CAIRO: Egypt recalled its ambassador from Israel yesterday after Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip killed Hamas’ top military commander and at least six other Palestinians, presidential spokesman Yasser Ali said.

“President Mohammed Mursi has followed the Israeli brutal assault in which a number of martyrs and sons of the Palestinian people were killed,” Yasser Ali said in a statement on television and on his Facebook website.

“On this basis he has recalled the Egyptian ambassador from Israel; has ordered the Egyptian representative at the United Nations to call for an emergency meeting at the Security Council ... and summoned the Israeli ambassador in Egypt in protest over the assault,” the statement added. 

The leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip called on Arab states, especially Egypt, to halt Israel’s assault on the Palestinian enclave, which was launched earlier yesterday. “We call on our Arab brothers, and especially Egypt ... and the new Egyptian presidency, to suppress this barbaric campaign in defence of Gaza and its people,” Ismail Haniyah, the prime minister of Hamas’ Gaza government said in a statement. “I call for an urgent Arab summit to confront the brutal aggression,” he added.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas slammed a series of Israeli strikes on Gaza which killed a top Hamas commander and six others, demanding an immediate end to the bloodshed.

“President Abbas condemned the Israeli aggression on Gaza,” said a statement carried on the official Wafa news agency which was issued shortly after an Israeli strike hit a car in Gaza City, killing Hamas military chief Ahmed Jaabari. “Abbas warned of the seriousness of the Israeli escalation and demanded an immediate end to the aggression.

“Abbas asked the secretary general of the Arab League, Nabil Al Arabi, to call an emergency meeting... to discuss the dangerous Israel escalation and brutal aggression on our people in the Gaza Strip,” Wafa added.

The statement was issued from Switzerland, where Abbas was holding meetings with officials ahead of a bid to seek enhanced membership at the United Nations later this month. “It seems that Israel prepared a wide-scale aggression against the Gaza Strip, despite Egyptian efforts to reach a calm,” Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said. “There was a clear Israeli plan to assassinate Jaabari and massively bomb the Gaza Strip,” he said.

Israel sent a “clear message” to Hamas through the killing of its top military commander and is ready to widen its operation in Gaza if necessary, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned yesterday. “Today we sent a clear message to Hamas and other terrorist organisations, and if it becomes necessary we are prepared to expand the operation,” he said in a televised address.

Speaking several hours after a major wave of air strikes pounded militant targets in the Gaza Strip, killing top Hamas commander Ahmed Jaabari and six other Palestinians, Netanyahu vowed Israel would not tolerate any further rocket fire on its territory.

“Hamas and the terror organisations have chosen to escalate their attacks on the citizens of Israel in recent days. We will not tolerate a situation in which Israeli citizens are threatened by rocket fire,” he said after consultations with his security cabinet. Defence Minister Ehud Barak said the strike was only the beginning of an operation whose goals were to strengthen Israel’s deterrence, damage militant groups’ rocket-firing capabilities and stamp out attacks on southern Israel.