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  4. Israel kills another Hamas commander, Billal al-Qedra, ahead of possible 'coordinated' assault

Israel kills another Hamas commander, Billal al-Qedra, ahead of possible 'coordinated' assault

On the previous day, Israeli forces announced that they eliminated Ali Qadhi and Murad Abu Murad, both senior members of Hamas responsible for the deadly weekend attacks on Israel. Over 2,300 people have been killed in Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Gaza Published on: October 15, 2023 13:57 IST
Smoke rises from a building in Gaza after Israeli airstrikes
Image Source : AP Smoke rises from a building in Gaza after Israeli airstrikes

The Israeli Air Force on Sunday said that the country's forces eliminated another senior Hamas commander, Billal al-Qedra, who allegedly led the murderous attacks on the Nirim Kibbutz area near the Israeli border.

"Following ISA intelligence, IAF fighter jets operated in the Gaza Strip and killed Billal Al Kedra last night, the Nukhba commander of the forces in southern Khan Yunis, who’s responsible for the Kibbutz Nirim massacre. Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror operatives were also killed," announced the Air Force on social media platform X.

The Air Force also said that at least 100 military targets in Gaza's Zaytun, Khan Yunis and west Jabaliya areas were struck by aerial attacks, which impacted the capabilities of Hamas by targeting their operation command centres, military compounds and anti-tank missile poys among others.

Al-Qedra was the 'Nukhba' (elite) commander of Hamas forces in Khan Yunis, the birthplace of Hamas military leader Mohammed Deif. "IDF warplanes, under the intelligence guidance of the Shin Bet, killed Bilal al-Qedra, the commander of the Nukhba force in the southern Khan Yunis battalion of the terrorist organization Hamas, who was responsible for the murderous raid on Kibbutz Nirim and Nir Oz, last night in the Gaza Strip," said the Israel Defence Forces on X.

"This just goes to exemplify that we have the intelligence in order to take out Hamas' leadership ... all the way down to the terrorists that breached, penetrated and butchered our babies in their bedrooms. So, the operation is ongoing," IDF spokesperson Lt Col Peter Lerner told CNN.

Other Hamas commanders eliminated by Israel

Billal al-Qedra is the third Hamas commander to be eliminated by Israeli forces in the last 48 hours. Earlier, the Israeli military killed senior Hamas leaders Ali Qadhi and Murad Abu Murad, both playing a crucial role in the group's devastating attack on Israel last week.

Qadhi was eliminated in a drone strike as part of joint intelligence efforts by the Shin Bet security agency and the Military Intelligence Directorate on Saturday. "Based on precise IDF and ISA intelligence, IAF aircraft killed Ali Qadi, a company commander of the Hamas "Nukhba" commando force, who led the terror attack in Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip last weekend," it said on X.

The Air Force said that Qadhi was arrested by Israel in 2005 for the kidnapping and murder of Israelis and was released to the Gaza Strip as part of the 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange initiative. 

Prior to that, the Israeli Air Force announced that they had eliminated Murad Abu Murad, the head of Hamas' aerial wing, in overnight strikes on the Gaza Strip. "Last night, IAF fighter jets conducted wide-scale strikes throughout the Gaza Strip. These included dozens of Hamas terror targets as well as “Nukhba” terrorist operatives that were in a staging ground in the Gaza Strip," it tweeted.

According to the Air Force, Abu Murad was "largely responsible" for the brutal and unprecedented attack on Israel by Hamas militants that has killed hundreds of people. It claimed that Abu Murad had directed the militants to launch last week's attack.

Israeli offensive in Gaza

As the war enters its eighth day, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said that it is completing preparations for a “significant ground operation” in the Gaza Strip, which will include a "joint and coordinated" offensive from air, land and sea, reported The Times of Israel.

"Hamas has shown the world time and time again what they are capable of. Now the IDF is prepared to counter with an even greater force. There is no place in the world for terrorism," the IDF said on X.

The week-long war has already claimed over 3,600 lives on both sides and sent tensions soaring across the region. The death toll from Israeli strikes on Gaza rose to 2,329 people have been killed in the territory, including 724 children and 458 women, the Palestinian health ministry said. On the other hand, over 1,300 people have died in Israel from the Hamas attack since last week.

Israel also gave an ultimatum for the 1.1 million people in northern Gaza to evacuate within 24 hours, which has sparked a divisive response by some including the European Union (EU), the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) owing to the dire health situation in Gaza. 

"The IDF is operating to eliminate Hamas in Gaza. Our war is not with the people of Gaza... We are calling on the residents of Gaza to evacuate southwards for their own safety. Not just because it's international law, because it's our values, our morals, and we demand no less," said Israel Defence Forces (IDF) spokesperson Lt Col Richard Hecht.

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