Al-Qaeda-linked faction leader killed by Israelis

 

GAZA/JERUSALEM – Israel has killed the leader of an al-Qaeda-inspired faction in the Gaza Strip, accusing him of involvement in firing rockets and a planned attack on the Jewish state from neighbouring Egyptian Sinai.

Yesterday’s deadly air strike was Israel’s second against a Salafi Islamist militant this week. Militants identified him as Momen Abu Daf, chief of the Army of Islam, among a loose network of Palestinian groups which profess allegiance to al-Qaeda and have been reinforced by volunteers who slip in from the Sinai.

Gaza’s Islamist Hamas rulers, who have sometimes reined in more radical groups, are seeking an accommodation with secular Palestinian rivals and with an Egypt struggling for order after the fall of US-allied President Hosni Mubarak in February.

Abu Daf died when a missile hit Gaza City’s Zeitoun district, the Hamas administration’s health ministry said. Five other Palestinians were wounded.

The Israeli military said its aircraft “targeted a terrorist squad that was identified moments before firing rockets at Israel from the northern Gaza Strip”.

Abu Daf, a military statement said, had “orchestrated and executed numerous and varied terror attacks” and “was actively involved in the preparations of the attempted terror attack on the Israel-Egypt border that was thwarted this week”.

That appeared to refer to Israel’s killing on Tuesday of another Salafi fighter, Abdallah Telbani, who the military said had been plotting strikes in which gunmen would circumvent the fortified Gaza border by attacking south Israel from the Sinai. Israel has been on high alert for such raids since losing eight of its citizens to armed infiltrators on Egypt’s porous frontier in August. – (Reuters)