Israel Kills Top Hamas Terrorist

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The New York Sun

GAZA CITY, GAZA Strip (AP) – An Israeli airstrike Thursday killed the top Hamas enforcer in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian hospital officials and group members said.

Israel has accused militant faction leader Jamal Abu Samhadana of spearheading rocket attacks on Israel and of the fatal 2003 bombing of a U.S. convoy in the Gaza Strip that killed three American security guards.

Two other people were killed and seven were wounded in a strike on a Popular Resistance Committees training camp.

The 43-year-old militant had been No. 2 on Israel’s wanted list and had tried to avoid detection by moving stealthily, switching cars and hideouts.

In an interview last week with The Associated Press, Abu Samhadana railed against the U.S. government, saying he’s happy whenever American soldiers are killed and vowed not to take Hamas’ 3,000-strong militia off the streets.

The U.S. and Israeli-led boycott of the Hamas-run Palestinian Authority is “cheap extortion” that only serves “to make our people more attached to the government,” he said in the interview, held at a clandestine location chosen by his group.

Abu Samhadana graduated from a military school in then-communist East Germany in 1988. He was loyal to Yasser Arafat for many years, but was later expelled from Arafat’s group Fatah.

He formed the Popular Resistance Committees, a violent group consisting of militants from various factions, after the latest Palestinian uprising broke out in 2000.

His appointment as director general of the Hamas-led Interior Ministry infuriated both Israel and Hamas’ Fatah rivals, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

After Hamas’ victory in Jan. 25 legislative elections, the group deployed its 3,000-strong militia, whose rifle-toting black-clad members guard streets throughout Gaza.

Abu Samhadana has said the force will remain in place despite criticism by Hamas’ detractors that it’s a major source of friction and instability.

The New York Sun

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