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Israel hit kills Hamas leader

Gaza, Nov. 14 (Reuters): Israel killed the military commander of the Islamist group Hamas in a missile strike on the Gaza Strip today and launched air raids across the enclave.

The attacks marked the biggest escalation between Israel and Gaza militants since a 2008-2009 conflict and came despite signs yesterday that Egypt had managed to broker a truce in the enclave after a five day surge of violence.

Hamas said Ahmed Al-Jaabari, who ran the organisation’s armed wing, Izz el-Deen Al-Qassam, died along with an unnamed associate when their car was blown apart by an Israeli missile. Palestinians said nine people were killed, including a seven-year-old girl.

Video from Gaza showed the charred and mangled wreckage of a car belching flames, as emergency crews picked up what appeared to be body parts. Israel confirmed it had carried out the attack on Jaabari and warned that more strikes would follow. Reuters witnesses reported numerous explosions around Gaza, with Hamas security compounds and police stations among the targets.

“This is an operation against terror targets of different organisations in Gaza,” military spokesman Avital Leibovitch told reporters, adding that Jaabari had “a lot of blood on his hands”. Immediate calls for revenge were broadcast over Hamas radio. “The occupation has opened the doors of hell,” Hamas’s armed wing said. “Israel has declared war on Gaza,” Islamic Jihad said.

The escalation in Gaza came in a week when Israel pounded Syrian artillery positions it said had fired into the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights amid a civil war in Syria.

 
 
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