The gates of hell are now officially open. So informs a metaphorical communique from the Qassam Brigades, the military arm of Hamas.
The message, reports The Telegraph, is a furious response to the death of the wing’s commander, Ahmed Jabari, who was killed early today by an Israeli air strike on the vehicle in which he was traveling.
Jabari, who is the most senior Hamas official to be killed since an Israeli invasion of Gaza four years ago … has long topped Israel‘s most-wanted list … and was blamed for in [sic] a string of attacks, including the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit in 2006.
Jabari’s son was also reportedly killed in the surgical strike.
Israeli officials warned in recent days that they were considering assassinating top Hamas officials in retaliation for a wave of heavy rocket fire from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The Jewish state’s Shin Bet domestic intelligence service confirmed it had carried out the attack, noting that Jabari was behind a decade of terrorist activity.
The announcement of Jabari’s death precipitated a widespread show of grief and anger, with armed men firing weapons into the air outside Shifa hospital in Gaza City. Mosques throughout the city calling prayers to mourn the commander’s death.
It also prompted the expected fist waving. In a statement, Fawzi Barhum, a spokesman for the political wing of Hamas, called the strike a “declaration of war,” adding:
The occupation committed a dangerous crime and crossed all the red lines….
The occupation will pay dearly for this and we will make it regret the moment they thought about it.
Earlier in the day, an Israeli official said his nation may try to topple President Mahmoud Abbas if he carries out a plan to ask the United Nations this month to upgrade the status of the Palestinian Authority. The upgrade would give the Palestinians a place in the world body akin to that of the Vatican—short of full membership as a sovereign state but as close as they can get without the full recognition that can only come from a peace treaty.
The White House has not yet issued a formal response to the story.
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