Israeli Airstrike Kills Hamas Military Leader

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 14 2012 12:19 PM

Israeli Airstrike Kills Hamas Military Leader

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Palestinians extinguish fire from the car of Ahmaed Jaabari after it was hit by an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on Wednesday

Photo by Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images.

Hamas' military commander was reportedly killed today by an Israeli airstrike on the Gaza Strip, an attack that marks what Reuters is calling "the biggest escalation between Israel and Gaza militants" since 2009.

Ahmed Said Khalil al-Jabari, who ran the militant organization's armed wing, and another high-level Hamas official were killed while riding in a car that was hit by a missile that Palestinians say killed at least seven others, including a nine-year-old girl.

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Reuters with more:

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 organizations in Gaza," military spokesman Avital Leibovitch told reporters, adding that Jaabari had "a lot of blood on his hands".

The airstrike follow escalating violence over the weekend, during which more than 70 rockets were launched from Gaza into Israel. That exchange of fire killed six Palestinians and injured eight Israelis, according to the Telegraph.

Following today's attack, Hamas officials vowed to retaliate.  "We will respond [to the assassination], this I have to say clearly....The Israelis are working to target the local leaders and political leaders in Gaza," Hamas spokesperson Osama Hamdan told Al Jazeera. "We are expecting acts and reactions from the Palestinians."

Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.