Despite Hamas’ Denial, Still Unclear Whether Mohammed Deif Assassinated

Palestinians report that an Israeli strike in Gaza killed the Hamas military chief's wife and son.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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A digger removes debris of a home destroyed in an Israeli air strike on Gaza City's Sheikh Radwan neighborhood, August 20, 2014.
A digger removes debris of a home destroyed in an Israeli air strike on Gaza City's Sheikh Radwan neighborhood, August 20, 2014.Credit: AFP
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

Israel tried to assassinate the head of Hamas’ military wing, Mohammed Deif, on Tuesday night, but his fate remains unclear.

Palestinians reported that Israel had bombed the Al-Dalu family home in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood of Gaza City, and that Deif’s wife Widad and their infant son, Ali, had been killed.

Hamas said Deif had not been present when the house was bombed, and Israel has declined to comment on the attack. At a press conference yesterday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to address the matter directly, saying only that senior Hamas officials had no immunity and were legitimate targets.

The Israel Air Force launched intensive airstrikes on the Strip during the day. According to military data, the IAF hit more than 110 targets, mainly rocket storage sites and buried rocket launchers. In addition, the army said, these strikes killed six terrorists who were in the process of launching rockets.

The Palestinian news agency Ma’an said that since the air attacks on Gaza resumed Tuesday, 22 Palestinians have been killed and more than 100 injured. Two Palestinians aged 11 and 16 were killed in an Israeli strike on Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, the Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported medical officials in Gaza as saying.

Yesterday the rocket fire at Israel was especially intense, approaching the peak reached in recent weeks when Israeli ground forces were operating in Gaza. During the day Palestinians fired more than 160 rockets and mortar shells at Israel, of which about 125 actually landed in Israeli territory, including five in urban areas. The Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted 23 rockets over several cities, including the greater Tel Aviv area, Be’er Sheva, Ashdod, Ashkelon and Kiryat Malakhi.

Hamas said it fired two rockets at an Israeli gas installation about 30 km (19 miles) off the coast of Gaza on Wednesday in the first apparent attack of its kind. The Israeli military said it no information of missiles striking any gas platforms at sea.

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 this morning. According to estimations based on similar threats, arriving and departing flights will be halted for up to an hour.

The Israel Defense Forces called up some 2,000 reservists yesterday, mainly for the Home Front Command and aerial defense units.

Netanyahu said at the press conference that dramatic changes in the region promise a “new political horizon,” even as Hamas and Israel continued to exchange fire after the collapse of truce talks on Tuesday.

“I hope [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas will have a significant part in the new diplomatic horizon. I expect to start talks with a Palestinian government which can abandon the path of terror,” Netanyahu said at Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv.

Answering a reporter’s question, the prime minister denied that ties between Israel and the United States have become strained during the Gaza operation, and commended the Obama administration for its support of Israel’s “right to self-defense” and for approving more funds for Iron Dome batteries.

Following the press conference, opposition leader and Labor Party Chairman Isaac Herzog accused Netanyahu of giving no redress to the plight of Israeli citizens, particularly residents of the south, in his statements. “We’ve seen a prime minister who’s more concerned with his shaky relationships with his cabinet members than with giving solutions to the Israeli public. There’s no horizon in his statements or hope of an accord, and he said nothing new,” Herzog said.

Rina Rozenberg contributed to this report.

It is unclear whether Hamas' military leader in Gaza Mohammed Deif was killed in Tuesday night's attack. Credit: AFP

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