BOOM! goes the airstrike:
FOX NEWS – An Israeli airstrike killed the commander of the military wing of Gaza’s Hamas rulers Wednesday, Hamas officials and Israel confirmed, in a dramatic resumption of Israel’s policy of assassinating Palestinian militant leaders.
Ahmed Jabari was the most senior Hamas official to be killed since an Israeli invasion of Gaza four years ago. Jabari has long topped Israel’s most-wanted list and was notorious in Israel, which blamed him for in a string of attacks, including the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit in 2006.
Witnesses said Jabari was traveling in a vehicle in Gaza City when the car exploded. Crowds of people and security personnel rushed to the scene of the strike, trying to put out the fire that had engulfed the car and left it a charred shell.
Hamas police cordoned off the area around a hospital where at least one body from the strike was taken. It was draped in a white sheet, with a burned leg poking out. Hamas said another man was killed in the airstrike.
Hamas police said three other airstrikes hit other targets in Gaza City, Khan Younis and Rafah.
Israeli officials had said that they were considering assassinating top Hamas officials following a wave of rocket fire from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip at southern Israel, triggering Israeli airstrikes. The exchanges appeared to be waning on Tuesday, but the killing of Jabari is likely to re-ignite the flare-up.
According to Haaretz, more rockets have been fired from Gaza into Ashkelon following the assassination of Jabarai:
Also, according to Jerusalem Post’s live blog of this escalation, Islamic Jihad calls the assassination an “act of war”. Funny, I thought firing rockets into Israel was an act of war.
UPDATE: Via Jerusalem Post’s live blog:
Breaking update: The IDF has in recent minutes struck over 20 underground rocket launchers belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad in an airstrike. The airstrikes targeted long-range rockets in the possession of terror organizations, such as the fajr-5 and other rockets that are capable of striking Tel Aviv from Gaza.
IDF spokesman Yoav Mordechai said that Gaza is a “forward Iranian base,” adding that the latest campaign of air strikes targeted most of the long-range offensive capabilities in the hands of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
He added that columns of smoke were visible around Gaza.
UPDATE 2: IDF says ground operation possible:
All options are on the table. If necessary, the IDF is ready to initiate a ground operation in Gaza.
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) November 14, 2012