UK & World News

  • 21 August 2014, 11:41

Gaza Airstrike Kills Senior Hamas Commanders

Three senior Hamas military commanders have been killed in an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian group said.

It has named the men as Mohammed Abu Shammala, Raed al Attar and Mohammed Barhoum, saying they died along with three other people overnight.

The commanders were all killed in the bombing of a house in the southern town of Rafah, one of 20 airstrikes the Israeli military said it carried out after midnight local time on Wednesday.

Israel's security agency Shin Bet confirmed the deaths of Mr Shamaleh and Mr al Attar in an email to Associated Press, but made no mention of Mr Barhoum.

Palestinian health official Ashraf al Kidra said "dozens" of people were still missing, believed to be trapped in the rubble of the four-storey building hit in the Rafah airstrike.

Emergency services spokesman said four Palestinians attending a funeral in northern Gaza City were also killed when an airstrike hit a graveyard in northern Gaza City.

The Hamas deaths came after Israel apparently unsuccessfully targeted Hamas's top military commander, Mohammed Deif, on Tuesday. Instead, his wife and seven-month-old son were killed.

Palestinian officials say more than 2,000 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed since Israel began its latest offensive in response to rocket attacks from Gaza.

Israel says hundreds of the dead were Palestinian militants. Sixty-four Israeli soldiers and three civilians in Israel have been killed.

Egyptian-mediated talks to end the weeks of fierce fighting in Gaza collapsed on Tuesday when violence broke out after 10 days of relative calm.

Israel said the latest airstrikes were in response to a resumption of Hamas rocket fire on Tuesday - adding that only one rocket launch had been registered since midnight, compared to more than 210 over the previous 30 hours.

In a TV address on Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu showed little willingness to return to the negotiating table with Hamas.

"We are determined to continue the campaign with all means and as is needed," he said.

"We will not stop until we guarantee full security and quiet for the residents of the south and all citizens of Israel."