Hamas says that it is now in a state of “open war” indefinitely with Israel after the killing of the Hamas commander Ahmed Jabari by an Israeli airstrike.
The assassination has “opened the gates of hell,” the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, were quoted by AFP as saying. They vowed to “continue the path of resistance.”
Mosques across Gaza were packed with mourners vowing revenge, as Hamas said no tactic would be left off of the table following the strike.
“The resistance’s options are now open and they include suicide attacks and quality attacks in Israel cities,” Ynet cites top Hammas commander Ismail al-Ashkar as saying.
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) killed Jabari in an airstrike on his car in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday. Israel’s TV Channel 2 says his son also died in the missile attack. There are also reports that Raed al-Atar, the commander of Hamas’s southern division, was also killed.
The attack comes as the first step in an Israeli operation which could see IDF troops on the ground in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli Air Force strikes reportedly hit at least 20 rocket-launching pads belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad,“seriously damaging their long-range missile capabilities,” an Israeli military spokesman said. IDF tank fire also struck targets in Gaza.
A Palestinian health ministry in Gaza says that nine people, including one children, were killed in the strikes.
Jabari, who was deputy commander of Hamas’s military wing, is the most senior Hamas official to be assassinated since Israel’s sweeping 2008 military operation in Gaza.
An Israeli airstrike killed the operational commander of Hamas’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. Israel accused Ahmed al-Jaabari of capturing the IDF soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006. Shalit was released on October 18, 2011, as part of a prisoner exchange deal.
A Muslim Brotherhood statement said Egypt “will not allow the Palestinians to be subjected to Israeli aggression, as in the past.” It also demanded a “swift Arab and international action to stop the massacres” in Gaza and said Israel “must take into account the changes in the Arab region and especially Egypt.”
Following the ouster of Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, the Muslim Brotherhood established the Freedom and Justice Party. In June, the Muslim Brotherhood won the Egyptian election and Mohamed Morsi became the first president-elect of Egypt following the 2011 Egyptian revolution.
Morsi had supported the Palestinians before his election and was expected to open the blockaded Gaza Strip bordering Egypt, but the government eventually backed away from the pledge.
The Egyptian warning comes as the IDF states it may initiate a ground operation in the Gaza Strip. “All options are on the table. If necessary, the IDF is ready to initiate a ground operation in Gaza,” a tweet from an IDF spokesman said.
The Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a neocon organization in the United States, told theWashington Post Israel may move to further “neutralize Hamas in Gaza” in the coming days.
Beginning in the 1970s, Israel gave direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas in an “attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious alternative,” a CIA official told UPI in 2002.