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Top Hamas military commander Ayman Nofal killed in Israeli airstrikes in Gaza

Nofal is the most high-profile Hamas commander to be killed in Israel's airstrikes in the Gaza Strip. He reportedly participated in several armed attacks against Israeli civilians and was involved in the kidnapping of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, who was released in 2011 in a prisoner exchange deal.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Gaza Updated on: October 17, 2023 20:13 IST
Ayman Nofal, the Hamas military commander who was killed in
Image Source : X Ayman Nofal, the Hamas military commander who was killed in Israel airstrikes.

Ayman Nofal, a member of Hamas' General Military Council and the head of its military wing's Central Gaza Brigade, was killed in an Israeli airstrike in central Gaza's Bureij refugee camp, announced the militant group on Tuesday.

"We just eliminated Ayman Nofal, a senior Hamas operative. Nofal was the Commander of Hamas’ Central Brigade in Gaza and the former Head of Military Intelligence," said the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) on X.

Nofal is reportedly the most high-profile militant to be killed in Israel's relentless airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, which are said to be targeting Hamas hideouts, infrastructure and command centres. He is known to be a close associate of Mohammed Deif, the leader of Qassam Bridages, Hamas' military wing.

"The IDF and the Shin Bet eliminated one of the senior members of the Hamas terrorist organization who served as the commander of the central camp brigade of the Gaza Strip," said the Israeli Air Force on X.

The Air Force said that Nofal was responsible for directing 'several terrorist attacks' against Israel and also supervised Hamas' rocket launches targeting areas populated by uninvolved citizens. He was also involved in the production and development of weapons, partnered in several attacks and even participated in the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Notably, Gilad Shalit was a former Israel Defence Forces (IDF) soldier who was kidnapped by Hamas militants in 2006 and was held captive for five years. He was released in 2011 in exchange for the release of over 1,000 Palestinians, some of them convicted for attacks against Israel, from Israeli prisons.

Earlier high-profile killings of Hamas leaders

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. Al-Qedra was the 'Nukhba' (elite) commander of Hamas forces in Khan Yunis, Deif's birthplace.

Prior to that, 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.

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 prisoner exchange initiative involving Shalit. 

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

The brutal attack by Hamas on Israel claimed the lives of at least 1,400 people. Israeli strikes have killed at least 2,778 people and wounded 9,700 others in Gaza, according to the Health Ministry.

The Israeli military said Monday at least 199 hostages were taken into Gaza, more than previously estimated. Hamas said it was holding 200 to 250 hostages and has demanded the release of 6,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the hostages.

(with agency inputs)

ALSO READ | Iran's Supreme Leader accuses Israel of 'ethnic cleansing' in Gaza, warns of escalation as situation worsens


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