Israeli air strikes kill extremist leaders in Gaza Strip



Two Islamist militant leaders were killed by Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip at the weekend as Palestinians continued to fire rockets into southern Israel.

Hisham al-Saedni and Ashraf al-Sabah were killed as they rode a motorcycle in eastern Gaza late on Saturday. They were ultra-conservative Salafi Muslims and led the radical Tawhid wal-Jihad and Ansar Al-Sunna groups, which had united under the Majles Shoura Al-Mujahideen, or Holy Warriors' Guidance Council.

Al-Saedni's release from prison was the main demand of the killers of Vittorio Arrigoni, an Italian political activist who worked with the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement in Gaza. He was kidnapped and murdered by suspected members of Tawhid wal-Jihad in April last year.

Al-Saedni was released from a Hamas jail in August. He had fought with al-Qa'ida militants in Iraq and was also wanted in Egypt, where he was suspected of attacks on foreigners.

Israel claimed al-Saedni was responsible for terrorist activity in Gaza including firing rockets and planting bombs. "Since his release, and in recent days, Al-Saedni had been planning a complex attack to be carried out along the Sinai border, a collaboration between Gaza-based militants and Salafi operatives in Sinai," the army said in a statement.

A third man was killed in an Israeli strike on a rocket-launching cell in Gaza early yesterday. Israel says more than 500 rockets have been fired at its territory from Gaza since January.

"Global Jihad has stepped up its efforts to attack us and we will continue to operate against it, aggressively and in strength, both in response and in preventive counter-terrorism," the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, told the Israeli cabinet in Jerusalem. Last night, Salafi supporters in Gaza vowed revenge. "Their blood will be a light to guide the holy warriors through the right path and will be fire that will burn the Jews," a spokesman for the movement told Reuters news agency.

Meanwhile, both Hezbollah and Israel denied reports that a senior official in the Lebanese group had defected to Israel. Arab media reported that Hussein Fahs, 29, a telecommunications engineer arrested by Hezbollah and accused of spying for Israel, had fled with $5m cash, documents and maps. He was described as the head of Hezbollah's operational communications network. Last Tuesday, a Lebanese military judge issued arrest warrants for eight more Lebanese accused of spying for Israel.

A psychological war between Israel and Hezbollah appears to be escalating. Last week, the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah appeared in public to celebrate infiltrating an unarmed drone into Israeli airspace, while Israel permitted rare television and press coverage of Unit 504, which runs military intelligence operations in Lebanon.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, PHP, HTML, JavaScript, CSS

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, HTML...

Recruitment Genius: Business Support Administrator - Part Time

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the South West'...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - OTE £40,000

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An expanding business based in ...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales - Business Broker - Scotland

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As an award winning and leading...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas