Two Slain Hamas Commanders’ Long Record of Terror Against Israel

The late Raed Attar and Mohammed Abu Shamaleh helped plan attempts to reach kibbutzim through tunnels. That's just the recent stuff.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

Two of the three senior Hamas commanders who were killed early Thursday have helped plan dozens of terror attacks on Israel over the past two decades, the Shin Bet security service says.

Raed Attar, Mohammed Abu Shamaleh and a third more junior commander, Mohammed Barhoum, were killed in Rafah in an Israeli air strike.

Attar, the head of the Rafah division in southern Gaza, has been linked to dozens of attacks. It was his plan last month to attack Kibbutz Kerem Shalom through a tunnel leading into Israel.

The Israel Defense Forces had already increased security measures in the event of such a foray; elite fighting units and extra artillery firepower were called in.

The tunnel near Kerem Shalom had been bombed by the air force a few days before Operation Protective Edge began, an attack that killed eight Hamas militants. The tunnel was then bombed a day after the campaign's July 8 start, using 30 JDAM unguided bombs along the length of the tunnel.

Abu Shamaleh, meanwhile, had been involved in the plan to send 13 militants through the tunnel near Kibbutz Sufa on July 17. Israeli planes then bombed the mouth of the tunnel and a number of militants were killed.

Abu Shamaleh commanded all of southern Gaza. In 1994 he was involved in the murder of an Israeli officer near Rafah. A decade later he was linked to a tunnel attack on two army outposts during which six Israeli soldiers were killed and 10 wounded.

The Shin Bet believes both Abu Shamaleh and Attar helped plan the June 2006 attack at Kerem Shalom in which Gilad Shalit was captured and two other soldiers — Lt. Hanan Barak and Staff Sgt. Pavel Slutzker — were killed. Attar is thought to have commanded the operation.

Attar is said to have founded a special force to carry out terror attacks through tunnels. He was also responsible for smuggling arms into Gaza from Sinai.

In July 1994 he took part in a small-arms attack on the Israeli-Egyptian border in which an Israeli officer was killed. In September 2001 he planned and took part in an attempt to blow up an army outpost, and in January 2002 he planned the infiltration of an army outpost near Kerem Shalom in which four soldiers were killed.

In recent years Attar has been involved in a number of small-arms incidents and in planning more-complex attacks based on the tunnels dug in the southern Gaza. The Shin Bet says the Rafah division is responsible for abducting Lt. Hadar Goldin — or at the very least his body or remains. Goldin was killed late in the ground offensive.

(L-R) Raed Attar, Mohammed Abu Shamaleh and Osama Abu Atah from Hamas, stand before a Palestinian Authority court in Gaza in this February 27, 1999.Credit: Reuters

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