Israel continued its campaign of targeting Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip Sunday, with an airstrike killing a top financial official, one who was said to be responsible “terror fund transactions.” The airstrike targeted the car of Mohammed al-Ghoul in Gaza City. Another recent Israeli attack killed three commanders of the Hamas terror organization.
Ghoul reportedly assisted in the transfer of monies that helped build terror infrastructure inside the Gaza Strip. Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) characterized him as “an important Hamas actor” whose work contributed to the building of the cross-border tunnels militants used to sneak into the Jewish state and commit surprise attacks.
Controlled by Hamas, the territory on the Mediterranean received the brunt of 27 Israeli airstrikes on Sunday, killing at least 12 people, including Ghoul. U.S. dollars were reportedly found in his wrecked car. According to IDF, Hamas fired 50 rockets into Israel Sunday with no deaths reported, although three people were wounded from a Hamas strike near Erez, a major border crossing.
At a Jerusalem Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated that any site where terrorists operate within the Gaza Strip is a target and that civilians should stay away from such locations. He said that his country’s military will continue to target Hamas and other terrorist groups (like the Army of Islam and Islamic Jihad) inside the Gaza Strip until Israel’s goals are attained. The Prime Minister has stated that the mission of the IDF is the restoration of sustainable security and quiet “by seriously degrading Hamas and other terrorist groups’ capabilities.”
The response from Hamas was the launch of more than 100 mortar shells and rockets into Israel, keeping much of southern Israel incapacitated. Now approaching its second month, the latest blow-up of fighting in the war between Israel and the Hamas militant group has seen more than 2,100 Palestinians and 68 Israelis killed. Israel and others have accused Hamas of deliberately putting Palestinian civilians in harm’s way in order to gain sympathetic publicity.
Article Seven of Hamas’ charter declares that Allah (God) spoke the following words: “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him…” Also relevant to the conflict, Article 13 of the same enabling document states that “Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.”
Despite Hamas’ foundational beliefs against peace agreements with Israel, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry nevertheless asked for an immediate truce and that Israel and Hamas return again to Cairo to resume the indirect cease-fire talks that crumbled last week. Speaking to Fox News, Netanyahu asked U.S. television viewers to imagine their country being blitzed with rockets “not in one city or two cities, but in every city between New York and Colorado.” He projected that 80 percent of U.S. citizens “would have to be in bomb shelters or ready to go into bomb shelters” within one to one-and-a-half minutes.
IDF aircraft destroyed a seven-floor office building and another five-story building on Sunday. An apartment tower was smashed the day before, a location Israel’s military said was active with Hamas activities. An anonymous senior IDF officer acknowledged his country’s policy of hitting buildings in the Gaza Strip which contain Hamas operation centers. Each such strike, he said, happens only after the local population is warned. He did not specify how much advanced notice is given.
Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri said that his group now negotiates only “with a rifle in its hand and a finger on the trigger.” For its part, Israel has stated categorically that it would not negotiate under fire.
Between Israeli airstrikes and the earlier ground offensive against terror, official estimates from the United Nations say that more than 17,000 homes in the Gaza Strip have been destroyed or rendered unrepairable during the almost two months of hostilities. It also reports that over one-quarter of the area’s population – or 460,000 Gazans – have been displaced.
By Gregory Baskin