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Israel Kills Hamas Commander Leaving Gaza on Edge

Israel Kills Hamas Commander Leaving Gaza on Edge

Monday, 12 November, 2018 - 11:45
The mother of Nour Baraka, a Hamas commander who was killed during an Israeli operation on Khan Younis, reacts at a hospital morgue where his body was transported. (AFP)
Ramallah – Kifah Zboun
Israel killed a senior al-Qassam Brigades official, Nour Baraka, along with others, in a significant escalation days after a truce entered into force in the Gaza Strip. Israeli media reported at least one Israeli soldier was killed in the operation that targeted the Hamas official.

In a statement, Hamas' armed wing, the Qassam Brigades, said Israeli undercover forces in a civilian vehicle infiltrated Gaza and fatally shot one of its commanders. It said fighters discovered the car and chased it down, prompting Israeli airstrikes that killed a number of people.

“A special force of the Zionist enemy infiltrated in a civilian car the area of the martyr Ismail Abu Shanab mosque, three kilometers east of Khan Younis. The force then assassinated Baraka," the statement read.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said six people, including at least five of the Brigades, were killed and seven others wounded in clashes that ensued after Hamas discovered the force while it was still in the area.

The Qassam Brigades later declared a state of alert, while Israeli aircraft continued to bombard large areas of Khan Younis, targeting everything moving east of the region.

Israeli authorities have asked residents of Gaza border communities to remain near shelters overnight, before Hamas launched a barrage of rockets into the Negev, some of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome. Israel subsequently announced that schools will be suspended in some areas of the enclave.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman held consultations with the Shin Bet security chief, army and security forces at the military headquarters in Tel Aviv.

The situation prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cut short a visit to Paris. He ordered his ministers not to give any statements.

The fate of the Israeli special force was unclear, but Israeli sources indicated that one of its members was killed and another wounded.

An Israeli military spokesman denied claims widely circulated on social media that a soldier was kidnapped in the operation.

“The Israeli army operated in the Gaza Strip, exchange of gunfire ensued. All soldiers back in Israel,” the spokesman asserted.

Hamas issued a statement in which it praised the “brave resistance that repulsed the Israeli aggression.”

The operation in Gaza came at a time opposition within the Jewish state has risen protesting the government's agreement with Hamas, especially after bags of Qatari money were seen handed over to the movement's leaders

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni of the Zionist Union ‎criticized the move, saying: "Now Israel is allowing ‎suitcases full of money into Gaza for Hamas?”

She criticized Netanyahu describing the move as a “submission to Hamas,” which would strengthen the movement.

Former Defense Minister Amir Peretz stated that the government was behaving strangely, saying it boycotts and confiscates funds from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who believes in peace, while holding negotiations with Hamas, which wants to destroy Israel.

“I do not understand how they are not ashamed," he wondered.

In the past two days, a group of Gaza settlers closed the main road leading to the Strip in an attempt to prevent the arrival of trucks carrying fuel and goods destined for Kerem Shalom crossing, in protest against the agreement with Hamas.

They considered the money as a “free Israeli donation”, which will have serious repercussions on the residents in neighboring towns of Gaza.

In other news, Israeli forces clashed with demonstrators and students in various parts of the West Bank as Palestinians marked 14 years since the death of Palestinian former leader Yasser Arafat.

Demonstrators and students threw stones at Israeli forces in Hebron, Bethlehem, Fawwar and al-Oroob camps. The troops responded with bullets and gas grenades.

Dozens of students and teachers suffered temporary asphyxiation from teargas canisters fired by the forces during the raid, the Tarek bin Ziyad school principal reported.

Israeli forces also targeted dozens of young men and women with teargas and rubber bullets during their marches to commemorate Arafat’s death.

Clashes broke out in several towns, including Taqwa and the village of Dar Salah in Bethlehem.

The clashes came a day after thousands of Palestinians marched in the funeral of Mohammad Ibrahim Shreitah, who succumbed to wounds sustained two weeks ago by Israeli forces during clashes in the al-Mazraa al-Gharbiyeh village north of the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah.

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