Gershon Baskin called the assassination of Ahmed Jabari “total insanity”, claiming that Jabari was instrumental in enforcing cease-fire agreements and helped stop rocket attacks.
Ahmed Jabari was the most senior Hamas official to be killed since an Israeli invasion of Gaza four years ago.
Israelis in southern Israel prepared for a possible widening conflict Wednesday following the killing of the head of the military wing of Hamas.
The government told Israelis living within 25 miles of Gaza to stay close to shelters in case Hamas terrorists launch another wave of rockets. Over the weekend, 200 were fired into the country.
Schools and universities prepared to close. Families fled to the center of the country or huddled at home.
Esther Hilf, who lives 9 miles from the Gaza border in Netivot, said she could hear the Israeli Defense Forces air assault on Gaza City from her home.
“My husband and I are relieved the IDF is responding finally to the Hamas attacks,” she said. “Hamas cannot be allowed to take 1 million Israelis hostage.”
Israel killed Ahmad Jabari, the commander of the Hamas military wing, in one of several airstrikes Wednesday on the Gaza Strip. It was the heaviest barrage on the Palestinian territory in four years in retaliation for renewed rocket fire on southern Israel.
The Israeli military said its aircraft targeted more than 20 facilities that served as storage or launching sites for rockets. Among the weapons destroyed were rockets that could hit as far as 25 miles into Israel.
Gaza’s health minister said 10 people were killed, two of them young children, and 45 people injured. The Israeli military said the strike was the beginning of a major offensive and warned that it could escalate with a ground attack.
Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai said in a radio interview that “all options are on the table. If necessary, the (Israeli military) is ready to initiate a ground operation in Gaza.”
Obama spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi Wednesday night. The White House said Obama reiterated U.S. support for Israel’s right to self-defense.
Gazans stocked upon food and gasoline and thousands chanted “retaliation” and “we want you to hit Tel Aviv tonight.” Others tried to find a safe place. Hamas, the offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood that seeks the destruction of Israel, vowed to continue its attacks.
Outside the hospital where Jabari’s body was taken, Hamas official Khalil al-Haya eulogized Jabari and threatened Israel.
“The battle between us and the occupation is open and it will end only with the liberation of Palestine and Jerusalem,” he said.
The Muslim Brotherhood party of Egypt’s president, the Freedom and Justice Party, said on its official Facebook page that the assassination was a “crime that requires a quick Arab and international response to stem these massacres against the besieged Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip.”
Military spokeswoman Lt. Col. Avital Leibovitch said Jabari had “a lot of blood on his hands.”
Jabari became the acting commander of the military wing of Hamas in 2006 after his predecessor, Muhammad Deif, was seriously wounded in an Israeli attack. He was said to have led the bloody 2007 takeover of Gaza from Palestinians aligned with Fatah, which rules the West Bank.
Israel says he was involved in numerous terror attacks including a 1998 attack on a school bus in Kfar Darom that killed two Israeli children. Witnesses said Jabari was traveling in a vehicle in Gaza City when the car exploded.
Supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu applauded the airstrikes and said he should have acted a month ago. But others were opposed to the operation.
Gershon Baskin, an Israeli peace activist called the assassination “total insanity.” Baskin said Jabari was instrumental in enforcing cease-fire agreements and helped stop rocket attacks.
“Now the government and people of Israel will face a massive barrage of rockets,” he said. “God help us all.”
But Hilf said she is tired of Israelis being portrayed as the “bad guys” for “trying to defend ourselves.” In the coastal city of Ashkelon, about 6 miles from Gaza, where rockets from Gaza fell in a nearby community Wednesday evening, Sigal Arielli, a mother of three said she was confident the military “will do what it needs to do.”
Although her family has a bomb shelter, it’s too difficult to reach within the 15 seconds of warning before a rocket lands. So the Ariellis stand under the staircase when the air raid sirens begin to wail.
“I’m against violence,” Arielli said, “But someone has to pay the price for the rockets coming from Gaza.”
Dovish Israeli lawmaker Dov Hanin condemned the killing.
“Assassinating leaders is never the solution. In place of the leaders killed, other will grow, and we will only get another cycle of fire and blood,” he said
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