SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Israel airstrikes killed 3 Hamas commanders early Thursday in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah. The attack, which also killed the father of a leading Gaza human-rights activist, followed Israel’s Tuesday night attack on Mohammed Deif. Mr. Deif’s fate remains unknown, but his wife and baby son were among those killed in the strike on a Gaza City home. Hamas said in a statement that the three commanders represented the “founding generation” of the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades. They were Mohammed Abu Shamalah, 41, head of Qassam’s southern unit; Raed al-Attar, who was born in 1974 and led the Rafah division; and Mohammed Barhoum, 45.
The strikes on Hamas commanders, in what some analysts saw as a shift in Israeli strategy, came after the collapse on Tuesday of Egyptian-brokered cease-fire talks that had halted hostilities for nearly nine days. Israel has carried out more than 150 airstrikes over the past two days. The strikes have killed at least 35 people, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. The number of Palestinians killed in the operation tops 2,000, most of them innocent civilians, according to the Health Ministry and rights groups. On the Israeli side, 64 soldiers and three civilians have been killed.