Gaza City: Israeli airstrike, naval gunboats
and tanks carried on through dawn in southern Gaza Strip on
Thursday morning killing three Palestinians and leaving many
injured after targeting the head of military wing of Hamas in a
missile strike the previous night.
The death toll on Thursday was at
least 11 Palestinians killed from Israeli strikes on Gaza, while
Israeli media are reporting that three Israelis have been killed
in the southern Israeli town of Kiryat Malahi.
Launched on Wednesday during a
deceptive lull in almost a week of surging cross-border violence,
Israel's began its air assault with the assassination of Ahmed al-Jaabari,
head of Hamas' military wing, while travelling in his car.
Jaabari's son was also killed in the strike.
Hamas, reeling at the strategic loss of its top military
commander, Islamic Jihad and other armed factions said they
resumed rocket attacks against towns and villages in Israel's
south after Wednesday's assassinatuion.
Israeli authorities said more than 200 rockets and mortars were
fired in from Gaza as of Thursday morning, and its Iron Dome
interceptor had shot down 27 of the missiles.
On either side of the frontier, people fled streets for cover.
Waves of airstrikes on more than 100 militant targets quickly
followed the assassination of Hamas military wing Ahmed Jabari.
The air attacks continued steadily into the early hours Thursday,
targeting the armed group's training facilities and rocket
launchers in Israel's most intense attack on the territory since
its full-scale war there four years ago.
The Israeli military released a black-and-white video of the
airstrike, showing a sedan moving slowly along a road before going
up in flames in an explosion so powerful that a large chunk of the
vehicle flew high into the air.
Crowds of people and security personnel rushed to the scene of the
strike, trying to put out the fire that had engulfed the car and
left it a charred shell. Plumes of black smoke wafted into Gaza
City's skies following other airstrikes. Ambulance sirens blared
as people ran in panic in the streets and militants fired angrily
into the air.
"I was sitting on my bed with my grandson when suddenly the wall
collapsed on both of our heads," said Mahmoud Bana, a 62-year-old
man who was slightly wounded along with his 11-year-old grandson.
"We don't know what happened but we know it is going to be a few
hard days ahead."
'Hamas vows revenge'
In a statement, Hamas' prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, eulogized
Jaabari and vowed revenge.
"We mourn our late leader who walked the path of jihad while he
knew the end, either victory or martyrdom," Haniyeh said. "There
is no fear among our people and our resistance, and we will face
this vicious attack."
Outside the hospital where Jaabari's body was taken, thousands of
Gazans chanted "Retaliation!" and "We want you to hit Tel Aviv
Meanwhile, in a closed-door meeting of the U.N. Council on Wednesday night,
Palestine's U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour said Israel is “vulgarly
and publicly boasting about its willful killing of Palestinians”
after an air strike killed Jaabari.
In the text of his statement, Mansour said “War crimes are being
perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinian people.”
“The international community must act to bring to bring an end to
Israel's illegal policies and practices against the Palestinian
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a televised
address Wednesday the operation sent a “clear message” to Hamas
and other organizations and threatened to expand the military
mission if needed.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released statements saying he had
spoken to Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi about “the worrisome
escalation of violence in southern Israel and Gaza and the need to
prevent any further deterioration.”
He also said he had talked to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to
express concern about “an alarming escalation of indiscriminate
rocket fire from Gaza into Israel and the targeted killing by
Israel of a Hamas military operative in Gaza.”
Israel's already strained relations with Egypt's new Islamist
government frayed even further as Egypt recalled its ambassador
Wednesday in response to the Israeli military operation.
Egypt and other Arab nations called for the emergency meeting
after Israel killed the Hamas military commander during more than
20 air strikes on Gaza.