Hamas confirmed Thursday that three of its military commanders were killed in an Israeli air strike on Gaza, but said the chief of the militant group’s military wing, Mohammed Deif, escaped an assassination attempt that killed his wife and son.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement praising Shin Bet, the country’s internal security organization, for their “hard work and professionalism” in carrying out the operation after midnight on Wednesday, the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reports.
Israel struck some 110 targets in Gaza in response to Hamas firing more than 175 rockets and mortar shells toward Israel on Tuesday and Wednesday. Palestinian officials reported that more than 22 people have been killed since midnight on Thursday alone.
The month-long Gaza war has so far killed more than 2,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians. Israel has lost 67 people, all but three of them soldiers.
Meanwhile, a senior Hamas purportedly boasted during a conference in Istanbul on Wednesday that the group’s military wing was behind the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank in June that provoked the violence leading to the latest Gaza war, Ha’aretz reports from Turkey..
A video captured during the conference shows Salach Al-Aruri, who is based in Turkey and is considered a prominent figure within the militant group, saying that the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades were responsible for the abduction of the three teenagers.”It has been said that it is an Israeli conspiracy, and I say it isn’t,” Aruri says on the tape.
“The al-Qassam’s mujahedeen were the ones to carry out [the abduction] in show of support for the prisoners’ hunger strike,” he adds, referring to Palestinian inmates held in Israel, the newspaper says.