Mar
09

Israel kills Palestinian militant commander

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Air strike kills Zuhair al-Qaissi, who Israel claims was plotting attack similar to one in August in which eight people died

An Israeli air strike has killed a top Palestinian militant commander and a second militant in Gaza in the highest-profile attack in the terrority in months.

The Israeli military confirmed Friday’s strike, saying the killed commander, Zuhair al-Qaissi, was plotting an attack on Israel similar to one his group carried out in August that killed eight people. In a statement, the Israeli military warned Gaza’s Hamas rulers against any retaliation.

Palestinian witnesses said Israeli drones were seen hovering above moments before a vehicle exploded into flames just outside of Gaza City.

Qaissi was the top commander of the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committee, a large militant group aligned with Hamas. The group’s spokesman confirmed his death as well as identifying another casualty, Mahmoud Hanini, who had previously been deported to Gaza after being released from an Israeli prison. Another peron was seriously wounded in the attack. His identity remains unclear.

“The coward Zionists have committed an ugly crime and they know the price that they are going to pay,” said the spokesman, who goes by the pseudonym Abu Mujahid.

Israel often targets Gaza militants it says are preparing attacks, but relations have been relatively calm in recent months, with Israel mostly targeting smuggling tunnels from Egypt and refraining from targeting individuals. Qaissi, 55, is also known as Abu Ibrahim.

The Israeli military said that Qaissi was also in charge of transferring funds from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah to other militant groups in Gaza.

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