Israeli airstrike kills top Hamas militant in Gaza

January 3rd, 2009 - 4:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Tel Aviv/Gaza, Jan 3 (DPA) Israel killed a top Hamas militant in the Gaza Strip early Saturday as aircraft continued to pound the salient on the eighth day of attacks against the Islamist movement.Zakaria al-Jamal, the third senior Hamas leader to be killed in the Israeli assault, was hit when planes attacked the vehicle in which he was driving.

The Israeli military said in a statement that Jamal was a battalion commander in the Hamas military wing, and the head of the movement’s rocket-launching squads in Gaza City.

The Israeli military said that the air force had carried out around 25 attacks overnight and Saturday morning.

Targets hit included a college, which the military statement said had been used as a rocket-launching base, and the homes of two Hamas militants. One home had been used as a weapons depot and the other as a meeting place to plan attacks, the statement said.

Gaza militants, for their part, continued to launch rockets and mortar shells at Israel, with around five attacks reported Saturday.

Israel launched its “Operation Cast Lead” one week ago, in response to a week of heavy rocket barrages on the Jewish state out of the Gaza Strip following the end of a nervous six-month truce between Israel and Hamas leaders in the salient.

Some 437 Palestinians, the majority militants, have been killed in the Israeli strikes, and around 2,300 wounded.

Palestinian rockets launched since the start of the operation have killed four Israelis, three civilians among them, and wounded dozens more.

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