Israeli missiles kill Hamas military chief

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A leading Hamas militant near the top of Israel's wanted list was killed last night in an Israeli missile strike in Gaza City. Adnan al-Ghoul, 46, and the number two in Iz a Din al-Kassam, the faction's military wing, was killed along with his deputy, Imad Abbas, when the car in which they were travelling was incinerated by the missile attack.

A leading Hamas militant near the top of Israel's wanted list was killed last night in an Israeli missile strike in Gaza City. Adnan al-Ghoul, 46, and the number two in Iz a Din al-Kassam, the faction's military wing, was killed along with his deputy, Imad Abbas, when the car in which they were travelling was incinerated by the missile attack.

Al-Ghoul's targeted assassination is the most significant of a Hamas leader in Gaza since that of Abdel Aziz Rantisi, the faction's political head, in April. It came on a day that also saw the death of an Israeli non-commissioned officer on the Philadelphi road, on the border between Egypt and Gaza. Hamas claimed responsibility for the blast that killed First Sergeant Major Moshe Almaliach, 35,

The Hamas military wing number two had survived at least two Israeli strikes in the past three years, including one in 2001 in which he escaped unharmed along with Mohammed Deif, the leader of the armed wing, who remains in hiding.

Al-Ghoul was identified by the Israeli security services as a leading explosives and weapons expert in Hamas. The killing may prove a boost for the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, who is attempting to persuade his far-right critics that his plan to withdraw settlers and troops from Gaza is not a retreat in the face of violence.

The Israeli Defence Forces last night declined to comment on reports from witnesses that the missile had been fired from an unmanned Israeli drone, a form of attack that Palestinians say has only recently been mounted by Israeli forces.

The witnesses said hundreds of people gathered around the Hamas men's white Mitsubishi after the attack as ambulances rushed to the scene. The crowd chanted anti-Israel slogans and shouted for revenge.

A former member of the Islamic Jihad militant group, Al-Ghoul escaped to Syria and Lebanon in 1990 and joined Hamas two years later before returning to Gaza and organising what Israeli security sources said had been a series of attacks on Israelis in the mid-1990s.

The sources claimed early today that after being jailed for four years by the Palestinian security services in 1996, he joined the Palestinian Authority's preventative security forces while serving as head of Hamas's weapons development. In this role he played a leading part in the production of Qassam rockets, they said.

Earlier yesterday, Israeli troops killed two Palestinians who attempted to break out of the northern Gaza Strip in what was the latest in a series of recent attempted infiltrations. The two Palestinians, at least one of them armed, were spotted crawling toward the border fence under cover of fog for what the Army said was a planned attack inside Israel. They were shot dead by soldiers stationed at the western Negev kibbutz of Nahal Oz.

The Army said earlier that Sergeant Major Almaliach had been working on upgrading the Philadelphi route used by troops patrolling the border between Gaza and Egypt when he spotted a suspected tunnel shaft. Troops expert in tunnel excavation whom he had summoned in aid were unhurt by the blast that killed him.

A short time after the explosion, a Qassam rocket was fired at the Negev town of Sderot for the first time since the recent army incursion into Northern Gaza aimed at halting such attacks. The rocket fell in an open area; there were no injuries.

Comments