Gaza, Aug. 21 (Reuters): Israel killed Hamas political leader Ismail Abu Shanab in a missile strike today, two days after a suicide bombing in Jerusalem, and Islamic militant groups called off a seven-week-old old ceasefire.
The collapse of the truce, agreed by militant factions under international pressure, could sink a US-backed “road map” peace plan aimed at defusing a 34-month-old uprising and creating a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza by 2005.
Ismail Abu Shanab, a senior figure in Hamas’ political wing with a high media profile, was killed along with two bodyguards when four missiles fired by helicopter gunships shattered his car as it drove through Gaza City, witnesses and medics said.
Israel had hours earlier approved tougher military action against the militants following the suicide bombing that killed 20 people on a Jerusalem bus on Tuesday, one of the bloodiest attacks in almost three years of conflict.
Hamas said it carried out the bus attack as retribution for the killing of members of the group, which is sworn to Israel’s destruction, in Israeli army raids that have continued despite the truce.