Israel kills two Hamas commanders as it vows to eliminate group

Ali Qadi and Murad Abu Murad were the latest military officials in the Palestinian group targeted as Gaza death toll rises above 2,200

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City. AP
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A Hamas military commander who led the attack against Israel was killed by an Israeli air strike on Saturday, its military said, as it prepared for an expected ground invasion of Gaza.

Ali Qadi was killed in Gaza, the Israeli army said. Hamas has not confirmed his death.

It comes after Murad Abu Murad, who reportedly managed the “aerial activity” of Hamas, was killed in a strike on one of the group’s headquarters on Friday night, according to the Israeli military.

Israel declared war on the Palestinian militant group on Monday, following a deadly attack in which 1,300 Israelis were killed.

Two members of Hamas’ political office, Zakaria Abu Maamar and Jawad Abu Shammala, were killed on Tuesday in an air strike in Khan Younis, southern Gaza.

The brother of the leader of Hamas’ military wing, the Al Qassam Brigades, was also killed in Khan Younis on Tuesday.

The Hamas-affiliated Al Aqsa Channel said Mohammed Deif's brother, nephew and niece were killed in the strike. It is not known if Mr Deif was the intended target.

Mr Deif has survived seven assassination attempts, the most recent in 2021, and never appears in public.

His wife and two of his children were killed in an Israeli air strike in 2014.

Senior commanders on target list

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to “crush” Hamas, while Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said Israel planned to wipe the group “off the face of the earth”.

Hamas is ISIS – and just as ISIS was crushed, so too will Hamas be crushed. And Hamas should be treated exactly the way ISIS was treated,” Mr Netanyahu said.

Israel has also vowed to kill Yahya Sinwar, the head of Hamas in Gaza, who it says is responsible for planning last week’s attacks.

“Yahya Sinwar is the commander of the campaign, and he is a dead man,” said Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, spokesman for the Israeli military.

Mr Sinwar spent 22 years in an Israeli prison for killing two Israeli soldiers.

Another senior target is Saleh Aruri, who heads the Al Qassam Brigades in the occupied West Bank.

Hamas’ overall leader Ismail Haniyeh is based outside Gaza and so may be difficult for Israel to target.

He visited Tehran in June for a meeting with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, alongside the leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Ziad Al Nakhalah.

Mr Nakhalah reportedly lives in Beirut and may also be an Israeli target.

More than 2,200 people in Gaza have been killed by Israeli air strikes and shelling in the past week.

Israel said it had dropped more than 6,000 bombs on Gaza over six days.

Conditions in the besieged and densely populated Gaza strip are dire, with the UN warning of a humanitarian catastrophe amid shortages of food, water and fuel.

Updated: October 14, 2023, 1:21 PM