The Israeli Defense Forces announced that Ahmed Jabari, the leader of the Ezzedine al Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, was killed during one of several airstrikes launched in the Gaza strip today. The airstrikes were launched in response to a series of rocket attacks from Hamas that have escalated over the past week.
“In the past hour, the IDF targeted Ahmed Jabari, the head of Hamas’s military wing, in the Gaza Strip,” the IDF said in a press release. “Jabari was a senior Hamas operative who served in the upper echelon of the Hamas’ command and was directly responsible for executing terror attacks against the State of Israel in the past number of years.”
The IDF said that the “surgical operation” was executed “in cooperation with the Israeli Security Agency,” or the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal intelligence agency. The airstrike “was implemented on the basis of concrete intelligence and using advanced capabilities.”
Jabari was targeted as part of Operation Pillar of Defense. “The purpose of this operation was to severely impair the command and control chain of the Hamas leadership, as well as its terrorist infrastructure,” the IDF said.
The IDF also claimed to have “damaged the terrorists organizations’ long-range missile capabilities” while targeting “a significant number of long range rockets sites (over 40km) owned by Hamas.” According to Haaretz, more than 20 Hamas targets were hit in the operation.
In addition to Jabari, his “assistant,” Mohammed Homs, “who worked in Khaled Meshal’s bureau as chief of propaganda,” was also killed along with four other Palestinians, according to Haaretz. Meshal is the head of the Hamas political wing that is based in Syria. An unnamed son of Jabari and a seven-year-old girl are also reported to have been killed.
Marwan Issa, Jabari’s deputy military commander, and Raed al Atar, the commander of the Rafah company of the Qassam Brigades, were also targeted in the series of strikes, according to a Facebook posting by Mousa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas leader.
Jabari and the Ezzedine al Qassam Brigades have been implicated in several high-profile attacks against Israel over the past decade, including the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. He also is said to have been instrumental in Hamas’s takeover of Gaza from Fateh in 2007.
The IDF launched Operation Pillar of Defense after Israel was bombarded by a series of rocket attacks attributed to Hamas over the past five days. The IDF reported that 128 rockets were launched from Gaza by Hamas into southern Israel between Nov. 10 and Nov. 12. The IDF responded by targeting the rocket launch sites.
The IDF indicated that further strikes are possible. “All options are open in order to seriously damage Hamas and other terrorist organizations,” the IDF said.
In addition to Hamas, a number of al Qaeda-linked jihadist groups are known to operate in Gaza and have launched rockets and conducted other attacks against Israel. The Salafist-jihadist groups are thought to have united under the banner of the Mujahideen Shura Council [see LWJ report, Mujahideen Shura Council is consolidation of Salafi-Jihadist groups in Gaza: sources].
Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari (right). Image from the IDF Blog.