News / Middle East

    Gaza Fighting Intensifies After Senior Hamas Leaders Killed

    Palestinians carry the bodies of three senior Hamas commanders, who were killed in an Israeli air strike, during their funeral in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Aug. 21, 2014.
    Palestinians carry the bodies of three senior Hamas commanders, who were killed in an Israeli air strike, during their funeral in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Aug. 21, 2014.
    Scott Bobb

    Air bombardments and rocket fire between Israel and Gaza intensified Thursday after Israeli air strikes killed three senior Hamas commanders overnight.

    The Israeli military said its forces pounded rocket installations in the Gaza Strip as dozens of rockets landed in southern Israel.
     

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    Israel said more than 200 Hamas rockets had been fired at Israel and its forces had targeted more than 100 rocket installations in Gaza since a temporary cease-fire collapsed on Monday.
     
    Israel, Hamas confirms death of commanders

    Hamas identified those killed as Mohammed Abu Shamaleh, Raed al-Attar and Mohammed Barhoum. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said the three "were responsible for deadly attacks" against Israel, including the killing of Israeli soldiers and the 2006 kidnapping of soldier Gilad Shalit.

    Yaalon called the assassination of the three commanders "a very important intelligence and operational achievement by the Israeli army and the Shin Bet security service" and that Israel would continue to target other Hamas leaders.

    The funeral procession for the commanders drew thousands of Palestinians into the streets of Gaza, with some firing guns into the air. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the successful Israeli attack would not deter the militants.

    "The assassination of the al-Qassam leaders in Rafah is a big Israeli crime that will not succeed in breaking the will of our people and won't weaken the resistance. And the occupation will pay the price, God willing," he warned.

    An Israeli military spokeswoman said aircraft carried out 20 assaults in Gaza on Thursday. Late on Tuesday Israel targeted Hamas's top military commander, Mohammed Deif, but failed to kill him. Deif's wife and seven-month-old son were killed in the air strike, Hamas said.

    Netanyahu vows more strikes

    Following a meeting of his security ministers Wednesday night, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a news conference that the operation against Gaza would continue. He said only the guarantee of the calm and safety of Israeli citizens will bring an end to this operation adding that "therefore we are talking about a long and continuing campaign."
     
    Netanyahu said Hamas leaders were not only legitimate targets but targets of high priority.
     
    Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri retorted that the threat reflected the extent of Israel's violence and lack of seriousness in achieving a cease-fire.
     
    He said the threats would not frighten Hamas leaders and that "on the contrary, we will continue to protect and defend our people in facing Israeli crimes."
     
    Hamas' military wing threatened to launch attacks against Israel's main airport near Tel Aviv Wednesday night, but the airport appeared to be operating normally Thursday.
     
    Trading blame

    Each side accuses the other of breaking the temporary cease-fire Monday after 10 days of negotiations and calm.
     
    Some progress had been reported in the talks, brokered by Egypt, to discuss a permanent truce. But the two sides remained far apart on their principal demands.
     
    Hamas wants Israel to end the seven year-old blockade of Gaza while Israel wants all militant groups in Gaza to disarm.
     

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    During the six weeks of violence more than 2,000 Palestinians have been killed, most of them civilians according to Palestinian authorities. On the Israeli side, 64 soldiers and three civilians have been killed.

    The United Nations Security Council expressed "grave concern" Wednesday at the resumption of violence, which had paused for a 10-day cease-fire and peace talks. All 15 council members urged both sides to again halt the fighting and return to negotiations on a long-term truce.

    Some information for this report provided by Reuters.

    • Smoke and dust billow in the distance after an Israeli strike hit Gaza City, northern Gaza Strip, Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014.
    • A wounded man is evacuated from the scene of an air strike in Gaza City, Aug. 21, 2014.
    • Palestinians overcome by emotion arrive at a mosque for shelter after an Israeli strike hit Gaza City, northern Gaza Strip, Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014.
    • The mother of a Palestinian Hamas militant killed in an Israeli air strike mourns as she looks at his body during his funeral in Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip, Aug. 21, 2014.
    • People pray next to the bodies of Palestinians killed in Israeli air strikes during their funeral at a mosque in Gaza City, Aug. 21, 2014.
    • Sunrise over Gaza, Aug. 21, 2014.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Niyi from: ibadan, Nigeria
    August 22, 2014 6:13 AM
    We need to distinguish who is the civilian and the military in Gaza.
    A region will children suicide bombers cannot complain that their civilians are being killed.

    by: Anonymous
    August 21, 2014 9:41 PM
    just like in the US It is not all that unusual for an unarmed black person to be killed by police. There are no reliable national statistics on people of any race killed by police, but anecdotal reports count significant numbers. One study, relying on Internet searches of media reports, found 18 unarmed black people killed by police and security personnel in the first three months of 2012, including Trayvon Martin.

    More recently:

    On July 17, Eric Garner was killed by a chokehold after an arrest for illegally selling loose cigarettes in New York City.

    On Aug. 5, John Crawford III was killed while handling a toy gun in a Wal-Mart outside Dayton, Ohio.

    On Aug. 11, Ezell Ford, a mentally disabled man, was shot dead in South Los Angeles.

    The circumstances of each case are different, of course, and investigations continue.

    Brown was killed Aug. 9. The riots erupted Aug. 10

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    August 21, 2014 2:43 PM
    The UN is talking nonsense. Israel has no business returning to the negotiating table with Hamas again. What is there to negotiate when Hamas has vowed it would not recognize Israel's existence? It’s said it and it’s not allowing any truce to hold, why beg it again? It is a waste of time making any deal that Hamas will only buy time to break and attack Israel when it sees it has acquired enough weapons from Iran, Turkey and Qatar.

    Israel should only make sure that it does not exhaust its arsenal or run low on same while the Arabs and islamist countries might be rearing to start another war with Israel. Hamas appears to be only a diversion or distraction. Remember ISIS and Hezbollah are still there waiting in the wings, and they are very potent trouble, even though for now it seems the Arabs and islamists are not coordinated in what they are doing with them. Shame to all of them.

    Thank God ISIS is staring them in the face and they should be ashamed to talk about Israel-Hamas troubles when they have not been able to raise a finger even to point at Islamic State fast eating up anything they stand for. Look at Syria, and Qatar is afraid for its safety because ISIS is just at the backyard. Soon they will want Israel to come to their rescue. But Israel must first deal with the menace of Hamas underneath. The killing of the three Hamas leaders has not as much as pinched the command line of Hamas. So there’s still so much to do to completely remove its threat to Israel and the entire region.

    And to succeed in it is that the world bodies interested in lives and safety go into Gaza, evacuate the civilians and let the Hamas army slug it out with the Israeli army. One year to come, Gaza will remain a war zone if Israel does not strike the whole city so that, like the Yazidis, anyone in want of safety will ask to be evacuated, while those diehard islamist Hamas remain to water the ground with their blood. After the clean up, the Gazans will be allowed to return to their homes in peace and tranquility. The only way to ensure peaces for both Israel and its Arab neighbors is to eliminate Hamas. How can this be done safely when the UN agency is perched in Gaza looking out for what Israel will do wrong?

    I wish Israel would bomb all of them together and apologize later, even to pay compensation for their lives if needed. The UN should allow Israel to clean up the resistance of the recalcitrant nagging Hamas, unless it is in love with what is happening there. And if the UN does not yield to this request to evacuate, it will mean either that the UN sees things the Hamas way, in other words agrees to the elimination of Israel, or it does not want the Gazans to ever have, and live in, peace. The choice is with the UN: Give Israel and the Palestinians peace; evacuate Gaza and let the fighters finish their business before you return again - if need be.
    In Response

    by: Victor Ashkenazy from: Israel
    August 22, 2014 5:01 AM
    Well said.

    by: Lawrence Bush from: Houston, USA
    August 21, 2014 2:06 PM
    The salient demand of the Hamas side is to lift the seven year old embargo upon the Gaza; on the other, the Israeli demand is that all the militia groups of the Palestine side must disarm first and that's to lift the Gaza embargo. It's the prime basis for a long term cease-fire. The Egyptian mediation has failed because president Sisi failed to resolve these two specific factors of the Hamas and the Israeli sides.

    Another clue emerges to expose the fiendish intentions of the Hamas - without being disarmed while it goes for a cease-fire, it's just to cease fire over the current impasse but the future to forecast situations as it's at present. ......... While the current fight is on between the Hamas and our friendly state Israel, the war strategy should be to get the Hamas militia to the heels along with the top Hamas leaders. So, the targets for Israel do emerge in variegated dimensions, not just pounding over the Gaza strip only.

    Hence, to effecting this, the Israeli defense and intelligence - both the wings, must act in a perfect balance. Then only, the very Israeli objectives to demilitarisizing the Gaza strip and disarming the Palestine militia are possible......... The plights of the Gaza civilians in this war process is regrettable, but the illegitimate whims of the Hamas militia are the prime causes.

    by: Nsikan Eno Akpan from: Akwa Ibom, Nigeria
    August 21, 2014 12:40 PM
    If I sleep one day then wake up in a boxing ring to face any of the Klitschko's brothers, I will simply leave the ring immediately because there are certainly less violent ways to commit suicide than facing men with punches heavier that my body weight. These Islamic militants called Hamas should face reality and try making real peace with an Israel that's by far militarily superior, advanced and equipped than the entire middle-east. This is not a mockery because it hurts to see those innocent people die as a result of the condemnable risky activities of a few armed and bloodthirsty religious touts. Israel on their part MUST AGREE that these humans the kill in retaliatory warfare, whether militarily justified or not, are beings not things.

    by: USMC from: USA
    August 21, 2014 10:28 AM
    Israel is absolutely incredible... nobody, and i mean nobody (not even US) could match the technological sophistication and accuracy of their intelligence. For all the gawkers here who are not in the "know" - let me tell you - you are seeing a masterpiece of military coordination. Israel is a legend. Semper Fi little country, Semper Fi RESPECT !!!
    In Response

    by: Legionnaire from: Légion étrangère
    August 21, 2014 3:40 PM
    Truly. Extraordinaire. Allow me to join brother USMC and append The Legion sincere admiration for incomparable performance.
    Israel, you are unique in the Art of War - you are incomparable.
    Please accept our unbounded admiration and respect.

    Marche ou crève
    In Response

    by: Mark from: Virginia
    August 21, 2014 1:45 PM
    from one Marine to another, I concur. Israel sure knows how to handle itself, surrounded by people that wish nothing but destruction upon them, they are still there despite it all. A bit heavy handed at times, I admit, but they do endure.

    .

    by: Sunny Enwerem from: Lagos Nigeria
    August 21, 2014 9:41 AM
    Gazans will never see peace as long as Hamas operates there,its left for the people of Gaza to expel Hamas and embrace peace or life in Gaza will remain under Israel's bombardment.
    In Response

    by: meanbill from: USA
    August 21, 2014 11:27 AM
    Hamas was (elected) by the Palestinian people, and they rejected the Palestinian Liberation Organization and Abbas, to force the Israeli's to lift the illegal blockade, and to liberate them from the horrific Israeli apartheid occupation, and the continuous imprisonment and killing of unarmed Palestinian civilians since 1947... IF the US didn't supply the bullets, missiles, rockets, and bombs, to the Israeli's, the Israeli's would have to sit don and negotiate with the Palestinians, wouldn't they?..... AGAIN it's the US interference that causes all the violence, destruction, killing and wars that never end everywhere, and in the Holy Land too...

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