Several short hours after the combined attack on the Kerem Shalom goods crossing in southern Gaza – one of the Hamas commanders behind the assault has been reported killed in an IDF airstrike on a vehicle transporting armed gunmen in city of Rafah.
Hamas has confirmed the identity of the man killed as Muaa'in Abu Hamduna, a senior official in the group's military wing – the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades – a resident of the Beit Lahiyah region in northern Gaza.
IDF troops still combing region (Photo: Amir Cohen)
Several other Hamas operatives were wounded in the missile strike on Abu Hamduna's car. The army confirmed the report and said troops continue to search the Kerem Shalom grounds to collect further evidence pertaining to the attack.
Thirteen IDF soldiers were lightly-to-moderately wounded at the crossing after the Hamas cell drove two car bombs into the terminal and detonated them before gunmen attempted to breach the border and cross over into the Israeli side. Eight of the soldiers were evacuated to the Soroka hospital in Beersheba for treatment, two of them in moderate condition and the rest suffering from light wounds. Five additional soldiers who sustained light wounds were treated at the scene by medics.
Hamas: A major achievement
Longtime spokesman for Hamas' military wing – the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades – Abu Obeida, claimed responsibility for the combined terror attack at the Kerem Shalom goods crossing and the attempted attack near the Kissufim crossing early Saturday morning and hailed the group's operations as a massive achievement.
"The very fact that Hamas managed to get four vehicles past Israel's defenses and detonate two of them – signifies a great success."
According to Abu Obeida, the attack was carried out to mark the fourth anniversary of the deaths of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and his successor, Abd Aziz al-Rantisi. Abu Obeida said it was also in commemoration of 'Palestinian Prisoner's Day.'
"We came to say to the leaders who have been killed that we will continue in their footsteps, and to the prisoners – that we will do everything to free them," he said.
Hanan Greenberg contributed to this report