Israel has confirmed the deaths of additional Hamas leaders in Gaza as the fighting intensified on Thursday.
Palestinian sources said Thursday that an Israel Air Force strike in Gaza City has killed three of Hamas’ most senior officials: the group’s Interior Minister, Said Siam, the head of its security apparatus, Salah Abu Shreh, and the head of its military wing, Mahmoud Watfah.
One of Hamas’s senior leaders in Gaza, interior minister Said Siam, pictured in 2008, was killed on Thursday in an Israeli air strike in Gaza, the Islamist television channel said.(AFP/File/Said Khatib)
Siam was the Hamas political echelon’s liaison with the group’s military wing, and was responsible for the various security apparatuses in the Strip, including the police and the naval force.
This follows the deaths of several other top Hamas members since the start of the fighting, fueling reports that Israel wants to kill off all top Hamas leaders and eviscerate the group.
One Israeli said, “We are beheading the Hamas snake.”
Yesterday representatives of Hamas gave a preliminary agreement to a cease fire plan. Many who watch Isreal say today’s assault may be a start to the final action to destroy Hamas before a cease fire is agreed.
Yesterday former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the death of Hamas itself. The current Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, has taken a hard line against Hamas but government sources will not say that Israel is on a campaign to destroy Hamas totally.
After Israel was accused of attacking the UN center for relief supplies in Gaza City today, Olmert said the attack was in response to Hamas fire from that location.
“It is absolutely true that we were attacked from that place, but the consequences are very sad and we apologize for it,” he said. “I don’t think it should have happened and I’m very sorry.”
Nizar Rayyan was among the other top Hamas officials killed this year in Gaza. He was killed in Gaza in an Israeli air attack on January 1. He was considered to be one of the top five men in Hamas.
Rayyan died suddenly in his home in Gaza on January 1, 2009. The cause of death was blunt force trauma all over his body plus beheading by weapons from an Israeli F-16.
The top members of Israel’s “War Cabinet” meet Thurday night when Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni gather. They will reportedly discuss the progress of the war effort and the cease fire proposal.
John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem January 11, 2009.(David Silverman/Pool/Reuters)
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