'Pillar of Defense' by Israeli military kills Hamas leader
Airstrike in Gaza Strip takes out Ahmad Jabari, resuming Israeli policy of killing militant Palestinians
Ahmad Jabari, commander of the Hamas military wing in Gaza was killed in an Israeli airstrike as the IDF pounded dozens of targets. The Israeli military said it was the beginning of a major offensive codenamed "Pillar of Defense," and dramatically renewed Israel's policy of taking out key militant Palestinian leaders.
Ahmad Jabari, commander of the Hamas military wing in Gaza was killed in an Israeli airstrike as the IDF pounded dozens of targets.
The Israeli military says its aircraft targeted more than 20 facilities that served as storage or launching sites for rockets. Among the arms obliterated were rockets that could hit as far as 25 miles into Israel.
Officials said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with his senior Security Cabinet that evening.
Hamas announced a state of emergency in Gaza, evacuating all its security buildings. Troops were deployed away from their usual locations in Gaza.
Jabari was the most senior Hamas official to be killed since the last war in Gaza ended in early 2009. Long topping Israel's most-wanted list, Jabari was blamed for in a string of deadly attacks, including the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit in 2006.
Eight other people, in addition to Jabari were killed in the strikes. Three people have been confirmed as militants, two were children and the identity of the others remains unknown. Thirty people were wounded.
"All options are on the table. If necessary, the (Israeli military) is ready to initiate a ground operation in Gaza," the Israeli military said in its Twitter feed.
Chief Military Spokesman Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai said "at this stage" there are no plans for a ground offensive. "We're focusing on an air operation," he said.
Hamas official Khalil al-Haya eulogized Jabari. "The battle between us and the occupation is open and it will end only with the liberation of Palestine and Jerusalem," an emotional al-Haya said.
Witnesses say that Jabari was traveling in a vehicle in Gaza City when the car he was in exploded. Crowds of people and security personnel rushed to the scene of the strike and tried to extinguish the flames that had engulfed the car and left it a charred shell.
The Israeli military released a black and white video of the airstrike. The grainy video shows a sedan moving slowly along a road before exploding in a massive blast.
Fearing a lengthy in Gaza, Palestinians rushed to buy fuel, bread and other food supplies.
"We are working under fire to protect our people and to back the resistance," Islam Shahwan, a Hamas interior ministry spokesman said. "We have a full emergency plan that we are adopting now."
The Israeli military vows that the assassination was just the beginning.
"After a couple of days on ongoing rocket attacks toward Israeli civilians the (Israeli military) chief of staff has authorized to open an operation against terror targets in the Gaza Strip," military spokeswoman Lt. Col. Avital Leibovitch said.
She added that Jabari had "a lot of bloods of his hands" and that the military chief "authorized different targets" as well.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
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