Israeli Army Kills Two Top Hamas Commanders

Raed Attar and Mohammed Abu Shamaleh were regarded as two top Hamas commanders in the southern Gaza Strip.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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(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.
(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
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

The Shin Bet confirmed Thursday that an Israeli strike targeted the three Hamas commanders killed late Wednesday night in Rafah.

Two of the Hamas militants killed by the IDF on Wednesday night, Raed Attar and Mohammed Abu Shamaleh, were regarded as the two top Hamas commanders in the southern Gaza Strip, the Shin Bet said.

Shamaleh was the most senior among them, and was involved in several attacks, including the 2006 Kerem Shalom incident during which two IDF soldiers were killed and Gilad Shalit was abducted.

The unit led by Attar was responsible for the killing and abduction of Lt. Hadar Goldin during the first phase of the fighting and was involved in another incident in which IDF soldiers were killed.

During the first phase of the current operation, Shamaleh reportedly commanded the Sufa incident, in which three Hamas militants entered Israel via a tunnel. Attar was regarded by the Shin Bet as responsible for the construction of all the tunnels in the south of the Strip. He was also involved in the 2006 abduction and several other attacks conducted by the Hamas Rafah unit under his command.

The elimination of Hamas military commanders in Rafah was a “very complex intelligence operation that succeeded in producing results,” a senior Israeli security source says. Referring to the attempted assassination of Mohammed Deif, the source said, “The success is that we got to three targets in one day. The fact that we hit a place in which Deif was suspected to be is a fact. What exactly happened there, is not yet known,” the source added.

“The Hamas military commanders killed on Wednesday night were responsible for serious attacks on Israeli citizens and soldiers, including the abduction of Gilad Shalit,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Thursday. “It is a very significant intelligence and operational achievement for the IDF and the Shin Bet, who work day and night in the interests of the citizens of Israel and for that they have my utmost respect.”

Ya’alon added that Israel will continue to “chase and strike Hamas leaders wherever they are. The fate is sealed of everyone who tries to hurt the citizens of Israel. They need to know that we will not cease and we will not rest until we have got them. “

The defense minister asked the public for patience and fortitude, saying “ the operation will be long and the goal is one: to return quiet and security to the people of Israel in general and the residents of the south in particular. We will not compromise.”

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