An Israeli airstrike has killed Ahmed Jabari, the supreme military commander for the Palestinian Hamas movement in what the group’s officials have called an assassination.
The death of Jabari is the culmination of days of fighting between the two groups, though it may spur further attacks as a result, reports NBC News.
Jabari was the most senior commander of the Hamas military wing Ezzidine Al-Qassam Brigades, and a statement from the group said that Israel has “opened the gates of Hell.”
The Palestinian military commander is also the most senior Hamas officials to have died from Israel military action since Saeed Seyam was killed four years ago. The Israel Defense Forces posted a statement on their website, saying that Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Benny Gratz had “approved an expansive strike against terrorist organizations in Gaza.”
The Huffington Post notes that Palestinian witnesses reported more strikes from Israel after Jabari’s assassination. Hamas security officials confirmed that some of those strikes have been on Hamas training facilities. The statement by the Israel Defense Forces went on to say:
“As a part of the program, a short while ago, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) struck Ahmed al-Jabari and other senior officers of Hamas’ Military Wing, who were involved in planning and implementing dozens of attacks, including the kidnapping of SFC [Israeli soldier] Gilad Shalit.”
A statement by IDF spokesman Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai, explained that military action against Hamas began after the “intolerable situation in the south of the country, and seeks to harm terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip.
Ahmed Jabari was widely considered the second highest official within Hamas overall structure. The group’s highest official is Khaled Mishaal, the head of Hamas’ political bureau.