Photo: AP
Smoke billowing over Strip
Photo: AP

Hamas commander killed in Gaza

Air Force bombs more than 25 targets in Gaza Strip on Friday night; Palestinians say Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades commander Abu Zakaria al-Jamal died from wounds sustained in strike, college guard killed in attack on northern Strip

An Israeli air strike in the Gaza Strip killed a senior commander of Hamas' armed wing, the Islamist group said Saturday. Hamas said Abu Zakaria al-Jamal died early on Saturday from wounds sustained in an Israel Air Force strike overnight.


At least 10 rockets were fired into Israel on Saturday morning. One of the rockets landed in the yard of a house in the city of Ashkelon at around 10:30 am. There were no injuries, but a tree caught fire.


Ronen Strogoli, who lives nearby, arrived at the scene of the attack immediately afterwards. "I heard a siren and ran outside, because I don’t have a fortified room at home and had nowhere to hide.


"When the siren ended I saw the missile pass over my head, just above me, and then I heard a loud explosion, I ran after the train and saw smoke coming out of the house yard. A number of neighbors gathered in the area and we ran with buckets to put out the fire until the rescue forces arrived… It was really scary."


Two rockets launched from the Gaza Strip at around 10 am exploded in the Netivot area. There were no injuries, but the road sustained light damage.


Three rockets exploded in an open area in the Eshkol Regional Council. There were no reports of injuries or damage.


The Color Red alert system was activated in the southern town of Sderot at around 6 am, followed by a rocket landing in an open area near the city. 


At around 8:30 am, another rocket exploded in a kibbutz within the Ashkelon Coast Regional Council. There were no reports of injuries, but a building sustained damage.


The kibbutz coordinator told Ynet that the rocket had landed near the dining hall, which was empty at the time. "We haven't had breakfast on Saturdays for years now. One of the walls sustained damage, but there were no injuries. We have been used to these things for years and we'll continue acting as usual."


Dahaniya Airport bombed

The Israel Defense Forces attacked more than 25 targets across the Gaza Strip on Friday night. One of the targets bombed by the Israel Air Force was a college used as a meeting place and hideout for Hamas members, where many rockets were fired towards Israel.


Other targets attacked included hours of activists used as weapon storehouses and a control tower at the Dahaniya Airport.


Abu Zakaria Al-Jamal's house was bombed in one of the airstrikes. According to the IDF, his job was to direct the firing of rockets and was in charge of rocket launching cells.


The house of Ismail Ghanem, a member of Hamas' military wing, was bombed in the town of Beit Lahiya. According to the IDF, Ghanem is one of the main people responsible for the firing of Grad rockets at Israel.


The IAF also bombed the house of Izz al-Din Haddad, head of Hamas' military wing in the eastern part of Gaza city, and the car of a Hamas activist who according to the IDF was unloading weapons from his car to a Gaza storehouse. Navy forces attacked Hamas posts, training camps and rocket launching pads.


Palestinians reported that an Israeli air strike hit a college in the northern Gaza Strip, killing one of its guards. The school is a private, Palestinian institution that is part of an association of "American Schools" in the Middle East. The curriculum includes English and Arabic studies. None of the teachers is American.


Sources in the Strip reported that the IDF dropped leaflets in the early morning hours, calling on Gaza's residents not to take to the streets.


2 Hamas gunmen killed

The residents of southern Israel enjoyed a calm but tense Friday night, a week after the IDF launched Operation Cast Lead and following another day of air strikes in the Gaza Strip.


Only one Qassam rocket was fired towards the Eshkol Regional Council on Friday evening, exploding in an open area without causing injuries or damage. At the same time, the IDF struck in Gaza.


According to a report by Palestinian sources, two Hamas gunmen were killed in a strike near the northern Strip town of Jabalya. The two are believed to have been members of a rocket launching cell belonging to Hamas' military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.


Some 30 Qassam and Grad rockets were fired at Israel on Friday. Two women were lightly hurt in the seaside city of Ashkelon in the morning hours, and another man was injured by shrapnel in the afternoon when a Grad rocket slammed into a house.


As Israeli ground forces waited alertly outside the Strip, the IDF continued its airstrikes throughout the day. The homes of Hamas leaders were bombed, including that of Imad Akel in the Nuseirat district.


According to the Palestinians, at least six people were killed in attacks on Friday afternoon, including a girl and three members of a Kahn Younis family.


Hanan Greenberg, Ronen Medzini, Roni Sofer, Ali Waked and Ilana Curiel contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 01.03.09, 07:20
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