|Posted on November 16, 2012 at 6:00 PM|
The Israeli Air Force on Wednesday launched a series of airstrikes in Gaza City, killing Ahmed Jabari, the head of Hamas’s armed wing — the equivalent of an army’s chief of staff — and his son, Mohammed al-Homs. Palestinian sources put the death toll at up to nine by evening.
Following the airstrikes, Palestinians launched dozens of rockets at Israel, most of them targeting Beersheba and its environs. Rockets were also fired at Ashkelon, Ashdod and other cities within range of the Palestinian enclave. Two people were lightly injured in the attacks and several more treated for shock.
As of early Thursday morning, approximately 90 missiles had been fired at Israel since the strike on Jabari. Over 25 of the rockets were shot down by the Iron Dome defense system.
Residents within range of rocket fire from Gaza were requested to remain within 15 seconds of a shelter. School was called off for Thursday throughout the south, including in Beersheba, Ashdod and Ashkelon. The police raised alert levels amid fears of terror attacks.
The army confirmed the airstrike on Jabari and said that it had launched a “widespread campaign on terror sites and operatives in the Gaza Strip, chief among them Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets.” The IDF Spokesperson’s Office told The Times of Israel that the campaign was being referred to as “Operation Pillar of Defense.”
“By nature of his position, Jabari has been responsible over the past decade for all anti-Israel terror activity emanating from the [Gaza] Strip,” the Shin Bet security agency said in a statement. Israeli military officials, speaking on condition of anonymity under army regulations, said Jabari was identified by “precise intelligence” gathered over several months.
Hamas’s armed wing warned that in assassinating Jabari, Israel “had opened the gates of hell on itself.”