Israel launches airstrikes against Gaza Strip, kills Hamas commander

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Israel has launched a series of airstrikes against military targets inside the Gaza Strip, killing a senior Hamas leader. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) launched the offensive named 'Operation Pillar of Defense' in response to over 100 rockets fired into Israel from Gaza over the past few days.

"The IDF has begun a widespread campaign on terror sites & operatives in the Gaza Strip, chief among them Hamas & Islamic Jihad targets," said an IDF spokesperson in a post on the social networking site Twitter.

According to reports, the IDF bombed at least 20 underground locations believed to house an array of long range missiles which the IDF says have the ability to reach Tel Aviv and used tanks to fire on targets. The bombings also killed Hamas commander Ahmed Jabari, who was in charge of Izz el-Deen Al-Qassam, the armed division of Hamas. "The first target we targeted was Ahmad Jabari. A short time ago we completed another phase in the operation which included 20 different targets of rocket launcher pads. Israel is exercising its right to protect itself, and Jabari has a lot of Israeli blood on his hands", said Avital Leibovich, an IDF spokesman. At least ten people, some children, were killed in the airstrikes including Jabari and an unnamed associate which some reports say was Jabari's son.

"The occupation has opened the gates of hell on itself," said Hamas in a statement following the killing of Jabari. Hamas says all options against Israel are "now open and they include suicide attacks and quality attacks in Israel cities. Israel has declared war on Gaza and they will bear the responsibility for the consequences".

The fighting could last for days with the possibility of a ground offensive by the IDF. "There are preparations [for ground troops], and if we are required to, the option of a entry by ground is available," said Yoav Mordechai, a Brigadier-General with the IDF. Leibovich also added that "all options are on the table for us. We will do whatever necessary to protect the people of Israel."