JNN 15 Nov 2012 Gaza : Israel has launched a series of new air and ground attacks, dubbed as Operation Pillar of Cloud, against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which has been under an Israeli blockade for the past five years. The head of Hamas’ military wing Ahmed al-Jabari has been killed in an Israeli attack on the besieged Gaza Strip.
Israeli warplanes bombarded a car carrying the commander of the Islamic resistance movement Hamas in Gaza on Wednesday, making him the most senior official of the movement to be killed by the Israelis since their invasion of the besieged Gaza Strip four years ago.
The death of the commander, Ahmed al-Jabari, was confirmed by Hamas and Israeli officials, Reuters reported.
Hamas and medical officials in Gaza said Jabari and a companion were in the car in Gaza City when the airstrike took place. Israeli news media said the companion was Jabari’s son, but there was no immediate confirmation.
Several more strikes, which the Israeli military claimed had targeted long-range rocket launching sites, followed.
Witnesses and Hamas officials said four other people were killed in the attacks, and several people were injured.
Israeli jets and helicopters continued to fly over the Gaza Strip on Wednesday evening.
On Monday, Israeli officials said that they were mulling over various options to punish the Palestinians of the territory and had not ruled out the possibility of launching a new war on Gaza, Press TV reported.
“These are very important days… in light of the ongoing activity against Hamas and… organizations in Gaza, which is likely to intensify and expand,” Israeli Minister for Military Affairs Ehud Barak said.
According to Barak, “Hamas is responsible for the shooting at Israeli communities and attempts to harm Israeli soldiers. Under my guidance, the IDF (Israeli military) is currently examining all possibilities in the event of further Hamas violations.”
He added that Israel’s “upcoming elections will not be a source of immunity for Hamas and… if we have to reenter Gaza to strike at Hamas, we will not hesitate to do so.”
On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told foreign diplomats touring southern Israel, “We shall not sit with our arms folded in the face of repeated, almost daily, attacks on our citizens… We shall act to stop it.”
Meanwhile, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other Palestinian resistance groups in the Gaza Strip met earlier in the day and said they were ready for a ceasefire if Tel Aviv “stops its aggression” against the besieged territory.
“The Islamic and nationalist movements confirm that the response of the resistance depends on whether the Zionist aggression against our people is continued,” they said in a statement read out during a press conference in Gaza City.
Israeli airstrikes, shelling, and artillery fire have left at least ten Palestinians dead and over 40 others injured since Saturday.
The Israeli military frequently carries out airstrikes and other attacks on the Gaza Strip, saying the actions are being conducted for defensive purposes. However, disproportionate force is always used, in violation of international law, and civilians are often killed or injured.
Gaza has been blockaded since June 2007, a situation that has caused a decline in the standard of living, unprecedented levels of unemployment, and unrelenting poverty.
The apartheid regime of Israel denies about 1.7 million people in Gaza their basic rights, such as freedom of movement, jobs that pay proper wages, and adequate healthcare and education.
Israel’s Shin Bet domestic intelligence service has claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that it had killed Jabari because of his decade-long anti-Israel activities.
“During a joint operation of the General Security Service (Shin Bet) and the IDF today, Ahmed al-Jabari, the senior commander of the military wing of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, was targeted,” a statement from the Shin Bet said.
At least nine Palestinians have been killed and over 20 injured in the Israeli operation “Cloud Column.”
Shortly after the attack, an Israeli official said that Jabari’s assassination in the Gaza Strip was not the end of Israel’s assault on the coastal Palestinian territory and more strikes would follow.
Israel also says over 20 sites in Gaza have been targeted in its fresh round of violence against the coastal enclave.
Meanwhile, Izzeddin Qassam Brigades announced that Israel opened gates of hell to itself by killing Jabari.
Islamic Jihad has also said that by killing Jabari, Israel has declared war on Gaza.
According to the latest reports, missiles have been fired from Gaza to Sderot and Ashkelon in Israel.
Egypt has recalled its ambassador to Israel following Tel Aviv’s deadly airstrikes against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has condemned Israel’s deadly attacks on Gaza Strip, which have killed at least 9 Palestinians including the head of Hamas military wing, Ahmed al-Jabari.
Egypt has demanded an immediate end to Israeli airstrikes, saying it is considering recalling its ambassador to Tel Aviv.
Egypt’s Islamist Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, also slammed the airstrikes against Gaza, saying Cairo would no longer tolerate such attacks on Palestinians.
The FJP has urged the Egyptian president to review all ties with Israel, adding that the attacks by Israel required “swift Arab and international action to stop the massacres.”
The Egyptian Health Ministry also called on Morsi to annul all pacts with Israel.