Hamas warns airlines against flying into Tel Aviv
Hamas’s military wing warned on Wednesday foreign airlines against flying into Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport shortly after the group confirmed that an Israeli air strike had failed to kill its military commander in Gaza, Mohammed Deif.
A spokesman for the Izz-el-Din al-Qassam Brigade said the Israeli airstrike has missed its target but has instead killed the military commander’s wife and seven-month-old son.
“The Zionist enemy failed to assassinate general commander Abu Khaled,” said the spokesman, using Deif’s nom de guerre.
“The leaders of the enemy were behind their offices looking at the screens and their intelligence and apparatuses made them believe that the moment of celebration was imminent,” the Hamas spokesman said. “You have failed and you have missed.”
Following the death, several thousand mourners joined the funeral procession for the wife and baby son of the military commander.
Justifying the air strike, an Israeli cabinet minister said that Deif was a legitimate target
“Mohamed Deif deserves to die just like (Osama) bin Laden. He is an arch murderer and as long as we have an opportunity we will try to kill him,” Interior Minister Gideon Saar told army radio.
In reaction to Israel’s air strikes, Hamas which dominates Gaza threatened to aim more rocket fire at Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv and cautioned international airlines to avoid it, according to Reuters news agency.
Hamas “has decided to respond to the Israeli aggression,” by making the airport a “target of attack” for the day, a Hamas commander said in a statement.
The armed wing of Hamas declared an end Wednesday to its participation in Egyptian-brokered efforts for a durable ceasefire with Israel, as violence escalated after the collapse of a 24-hour truce.
“We are calling on the Palestinian delegation to withdraw immediately from Cairo and not to return,” the spokesman added.
Egypt called on Israelis and Palestinians to resume negotiations, expressing its “profound regret at the breach of the ceasefire in Gaza.”
The burst of violence, which erupted in the hours before a temporary truce was set to expire, came following the collapse of the peace talks in Cairo Tuesday, with Palestinian militants firing dozens of rockets and Israel responding with airstrikes across the Gaza Strip.
It left the Egyptian mediation efforts in tatters and raised the likelihood of a new round of fighting in the war.
The fighting broke out when Gaza militants fired several rockets into Israel Tuesday afternoon.
Israel quickly withdrew its delegation from the Cairo cease-fire talks and resumed its campaign of airstrikes, and fighting continued into the night.
Arab League accuses Israel
Meanwhile, Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi accused Israel on Wednesday of “blocking” all attempts to end the Gaza conflict, a day after the collapse of a ceasefire in the Palestinian territory.
“Israel is blocking any kind of agreement leading to calm” in the Gaza Strip, Arabi told journalists.
“The Arab League wants to reach a permanent truce as soon as possible,” he said before flying off to Geneva for a meeting with the International Committee of the Red Cross to demand protection of Palestinian civilians.
Death Toll mounts
An Israeli air strike killed one Palestinian north of Gaza City Wednesday, medics said, according to Agence France-Presse.
Emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said the victim was a man but he had no other details on his identity and did not specify the location of the strike.
Earlier on Wednesday, another Israeli air strike on a house in the Gaza Strip town of Deir el-Balah killed a pregnant woman, three young children and two male relatives, emergency services said.
They named the dead as Rafat Aloah, 32, three of his children, his brother Mohammed 21 and the woman, Nabilah Aloah, whose relationship to the others was not immediately clear.