Hamas Warns International Airlines: Avoid Israel

Hamas: Israel failed to kill military wing commander Deif; in a televised statement, Hamas' military arm spokesman warns foreign airlines not to fly to Israel starting on 6 A.M. Thursday.

Funeral of Mohammed Deif's wife Widad in the Gaza Strip, August 20, 2014.
Relatives of 27-year-old Widad Deif, the wife of Hamas's military commander Mohammed Deif, carries her body during her funeral procession at the Jabalia refugee camp, Gaza, August 20, 2014.AFP

Hamas' military wing said on Wednesday an Israeli air strike in Gaza had failed to kill its military commander, Mohammed Deif, and threatened to increase its attack against Israeli installations.

In a televised statement, a masked spokesman for the Izz a-Din al-Qassam Brigade said Israel had missed its target. Deif's wife and seven-month-old son were killed in the attack.

"The leaders of the enemy were behind their offices looking at the screens and their intelligence and apparatuses made them believe that the moment of celebration was imminent," the Hamas spokesman said. "You have failed and you have missed."

He also warned of further Hamas rocket attacks on Israel's strategic interests, including Ben Gurion airport east of Tel Aviv from early on Thursday morning.

Later, foreign and Israeli airlines announced they do not intend to change or suspend their flights despite a Hamas threat to target Ben Gurion International Airport on Thursday morning. According to estimations based on similar threats, arriving and departing flights will be halted for up to an hour. 

Earlier, Fox News reported that an Israeli intelligence source said Deif was killed in an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday. Hamas officials said the assassination attempt represented an Israeli violation of the cease-fire, but Israel says its air strikes came in response to rockets fired from Gaza while the truce was still in effect on Tuesday.

In late July, most of the world's leading airlines suspended their flights to Israel after a Gaza-launched rocket exploded one mile away from the Ben Gurion International Airport. More than 500 outgoing and incoming flights were affected, involving about 100,000 passengers.

Although the curtailment by foreign carriers was relatively brief, senior Finance Ministry officials have expressed concern about the potential precedent it could present, with such cutoffs in the future potentially affecting Israel’s economic growth.