Israeli Airstrike Kills Three Sons Of Hamas Political Leader

International Desk

Published: 11 Apr 2024, 11:28 am

Palestinian Group Hamas' Top Political Leader Ismail Haniyeh. Photo: Collected

Palestinian Group Hamas' Top Political Leader Ismail Haniyeh. Photo: Collected

Three sons of Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh were killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza Wednesday, an assassination that threatens to complicate ongoing negotiations aiming to secure a ceasefire and hostage deal.

The Israeli military confirmed it carried out the attack, describing the men as “three Hamas military operatives that conducted terrorist activity in the central Gaza Strip.”

According to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Israel Security Agency (ISA), those killed were Amir Haniyeh, a cell commander in Hamas’ military wing, and Hamas military operatives Mohammad Haniyeh and Hazem Haniyeh.

CNN is not able to independently confirm the IDF’s claims.

The three were killed when the vehicle they were driving in was bombed in the Al Shati refugee camp, northwest of Gaza City, Hamas political leader Haniyeh told Al Jazeera.

At least three of Haniyeh’s grandchildren were also killed, as was the driver, according to a journalist working for CNN in Gaza.

The Israeli military statement did not mention anyone else being killed in the strike.

The Hamas-run government media office (GMO) said Wednesday that the Haniyeh family had been “carrying out social and family visits on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr,” before the vehicle was struck.

Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan and is one of the most important holidays on the Islamic calendar.

Haniyeh in a statement said killing the sons of leaders would only make Hamas “more steadfast in our principles and adherence to our land.”

“Whoever thinks that by targeting my kids during the negotiation talks and before a deal is agreed upon that it will force Hamas to back down on its demands, is delusional,” Haniyeh added.

Haniyeh, who is based in Qatar, said Hamas was not afraid of a planned Israeli invasion of Rafah, in the southernmost part of the besieged enclave. About 1.5 million people are estimated to be sheltering in the bombarded city after fleeing fighting.

Hamas would “not surrender, and […] not compromise […] no matter how great our sacrifices are,” Haniyeh added.

Israeli officials drew a distinction between the airstrike that killed Haniyeh’s sons and the ongoing negotiations aiming to secure a ceasefire and hostage deal.

“The operation is not related to the negotiations on the release of the hostages,” one Israeli official said. “Israel will continue and eliminate every terrorist/terrorist operatives.”

Two other Israeli officials said neither Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant had been told about the strike ahead of time.

International pressure to reach a ceasefire deal is mounting as the devastation and suffering in Gaza from Israel’s blockade on aid and widespread destruction of the strip worsens and half the population live with catastrophic levels of hunger. More than 33,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the start of the war, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health.

CIA Director Bill Burns has presented a new proposal to try to bridge the gaps in ongoing negotiations to broker a deal to bring about a ceasefire and the release of the Israeli hostages, according to a source familiar with the discussions.

The latest US proposal was made in Cairo over the weekend and includes pushing Israel to release a higher number of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the expected 40 Israeli hostages who would be freed during the first phase of a three-stage ceasefire deal.

However, Hamas on Wednesday indicated it is currently unable to identify and track down 40 Israeli hostages needed for the first phase of a ceasefire deal, according to an Israeli official and a source familiar with the discussions, raising fears that more hostages may be dead than is publicly known.

The majority of the almost 100 hostages who remain alive are believed to be male IDF soldiers or men of military reserve age. The Israeli prime minister’s office said Wednesday that of the 129 hostages from the October 7 attack currently held, 33 are dead._CNN 

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