Senior Hamas leader Nizar Rayyan has been killed in an Israeli airstrike. This is the first time aircraft have targeted a high-level member of Hamas since Israel launched a bruising offensive. Rocket attacks from Gaza have forced Israelis to flee in ever greater numbers, escalating the belief among Israel’s military chiefs that Hamas missiles could threaten the jemputan kahwin hukum forex’s top secret nuclear facility at Dimona, 20 miles east of Beersheba, falls within its sights.
Dimona houses Israel’s only nuclear reactor and is believed to be where nuclear warheads are stored. Israeli officials say that Hamas has acquired dozens of Iranian-made Fajr-3 missiles and with it, an even longer range than previously seen. Many fear that as the group acquires ever more sophisticated weaponry it is only a matter of time before the nuclear installation at Dimona. Rocket attacks from Gaza have forced Israelis to flee in ever greater numbers, escalating the belief among Israel’s military chiefs that Hamas missiles could threaten the nation’s top secret nuclear facility at Dimona. Many fear that as the group acquires ever more sophisticated weaponry it is only a matter of time before the nuclear installation at Dimona, 20 miles east of Beersheba, falls within its sights. Israeli officials allowed dozens of Palestinian holders of foreign passports to flee the fighting in the Gaza Strip on Friday. Army spokesman Peter Lerner says nearly 300 Palestinians poured through the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing Friday morning.
The Palestinians hold citizenship from a number of other countries, including the U. On Thursday an Israeli warplane dropped a 2,000-pound bomb on the home of one of Hamas’ top five decision-makers, instantly killing him and 18 others, while the Israeli army said troops massed on the Gaza border were ready for any order to invade. The airstrike on Nizar Rayan was the first that succeeded in killing a member of Hamas’ highest echelon since Israel began its offensive Saturday. The 49-year-old professor of Islamic law was known for personally participating in clashes with Israeli forces and for sending one of his sons on a 2001 suicide mission that killed two Israelis.
Before dawn, Israeli aircraft hit 15 houses belonging to Hamas militants, Palestinians said. They said the Israelis either warned nearby residents by phone or fired a warning missile to reduce civilian casualties. Twelve people were hurt in the attacks, hospital officials said. Even as it pursued its bombing campaign, Israel kept the way open for intense efforts by leaders in the Middle East and Europe to arrange a cease-fire. Israel said it would consider a halt to fighting if international monitors were brought in to track compliance with any truce. Adding to the urgency of the diplomatic maneuvering, the Israeli military said its preparations for a possible ground assault were complete and that troops stood ready to cross the border if the air operation to stamp out Hamas rocket fire needed to be expanded. Soldiers massed along the Gaza frontier said they were eager to join the fight, and some even cheered as they heard thunderous airstrikes in the distance.
The hit on Rayan’s home obliterated the four-story apartment building and peeled off the walls of others around it, creating a field of rubble in the crowded town of Jebaliya in the northern Gaza Strip. Mounds of debris thrown up by the blast swallowed up cars. Eighteen other people, including all four of Rayan’s wives and nine of his 12 children, also were killed, Palestinian health officials said. A man cradled the burned, limp body of a child he pulled from the rubble.
The house was one of five bombed Thursday, among more than 20 targets altogether. Warplanes shredded the houses, taking off walls and roofs and leaving behind eerie, dollhouse-like views into rooms that still contained furniture. Israel’s military, which has said the homes of Hamas leaders are being used to store missiles and other weapons, said the attack on Rayan’s house triggered secondary explosions from the arms stockpiled there. Seven other Palestinians were killed in airstrikes Thursday and one died of earlier injuries. Israel has targeted Hamas leaders many times in the past, and the current leadership went into hiding at the start of the offensive.
Rayyan, however, was known for openly defying Israel and in the past had led crowds to the homes of wanted Hamas figures — as if daring Israel to strike and risk the lives of civilians. Residents said he openly went to a nearby mosque Thursday morning to pray. In his last interview, recorded with Hamas TV on Wednesday, Rayyan was as defiant as ever about confronting the Israeli military. Oh fighters, know that you will be victorious,” he said. God promises us either victory or martyrdom.
God is greater than they are, God is greater than their planes, God is greater than their rockets. The military said it had information that there was a tunnel beneath Rayan’s home for use as an escape route. Israel seemed determined to press ahead with airstrikes on Hamas houses. It also has been targeting buildings used by the territory’s Hamas government — emptied days ago by evacuations — as well as rocket-launching sites and smuggling tunnels along the border with Egypt. We are trying to hit everybody who is a leader of the organization, and today we hit one of their leaders,” Israeli Vice Premier Haim Ramon said in a television interview. More than 400 Gazans had been killed and some 1,700 wounded since Israel embarked on its aerial campaign, Gaza health officials said. The United Nations has said the death toll includes more than 60 civilians, 34 of them children.
One of them, 11-year-old Ismail Hamdan, was buried Thursday after dying of wounds suffered from an airstrike Tuesday that killed two of his sisters, Haya, 4, and Lama, 12. His body was wrapped in a Palestinian flag and his battered face was still bandaged as he was carried above a crowd of mourners. Since Saturday, three Israeli civilians and one soldier have also died in rocket attacks that have reached deeper into Israel than ever before, bringing more than a tenth of Israel’s population of 7 million within rocket range. The bombing campaign has worsened an already hard life for Gaza’s mostly poor population of 1. On Thursday, hundreds of people stood in long, snaking lines across the territory waiting to buy bread. Israel launched the offensive Saturday after more than a week of intense Palestinian rocket fire that followed the expiration of a six-month truce, which Hamas refused to extend because Israel kept up its blockade of Gaza. So far, the campaign has been conducted largely from the air.