Israelis kill top Hamas commander

Wed, Nov 14, 2012, 00:00

An Israeli airstrike has killed the commander of Hamas’ military wing in the Gaza strip.

Ahmed Jabari became the most senior Hamas official to be killed since an Israeli invasion of Gaza four years ago. He has long topped Israel’s most-wanted list.

Witnesses said he was travelling in a vehicle in Gaza City when his car exploded.

Israel had said in recent days it was considering assassinating top Hamas officials following a wave of heavy rocket fire from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Israel blamed Jabari for a string of attacks, including the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit in 2006.

Israeli military officials said Jabari was identified by “precise intelligence” gathered over several months.

Advocates say targeted killings are an effective deterrent without the complications associated with a ground operation, chiefly civilian and Israeli troop casualties. They argue they also prevent future attacks by removing their masterminds.

Critics say they invite retaliation by militants and encourage them to try to assassinate Israeli leaders. They complain that the strikes amount to extrajudicial killings.

During a wave of suicide bombings against Israel a decade ago, the country employed the tactic to eliminate the upper echelon of Hamas leadership.

Israeli aircraft have previously assassinated the previous commander of Hamas’ military wing, Salah Shehadeh, the movement’s spiritual leader, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, his successor, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, and dozens of other senior Hamas military commanders.

The practice set off a continuous wave of criticism from rights groups and foreign governments, particularly the strike that killed Shehadeh - a one-ton bomb that killed 14 other people, most of them children.

Israel said the assassination marks the beginning of a ‘broader operation’ against Gaza militants.

AP