Hamas official killed in Israeli air strike


(Gold9472: Anybody notice how fucked up things are right now in Israel?)

Staff and agencies
Friday June 9, 2006

Palestinian militants today promised to avenge the death of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority's security chief in an Israeli air strike yesterday.

Jamal Abu Samhadana was one of four people killed in the strike on a training camp in the Gaza Strip town of Rafah, which happened shortly before midnight. Ten people were injured.

The 43-year-old was the founder of the Popular Resistance Committees, which has been responsible for regular rocket attacks on Israel.

Hours after his death, two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip, hitting a building in the southern Israeli town of Sderot. Israeli military officials said there had been no casualties in the attack, for which no organisation has claimed responsibility.

Israel said it had targeted the training camp because it believed militants were planning to launch a major attack, but Hamas today described the strike as "a direct attack on the Palestinian Authority".

"We consider this targeting of Abu Samhadana, the overseer of the interior ministry, a serious Israeli escalation and the realisation of earlier threats to target symbols of the Palestinian government," the Palestinian interior ministry spokesman, Khaled Abu Hilal, said.

"We've announced before that we are a legitimate resistance government - allowed by all laws."

The Popular Resistance Committees vowed to take revenge for Samhadana's death. "God willing, our retaliation shall come," Abu Sharif, a leading commander, said from a loudspeaker car as it drove around Gaza in the aftermath of the strike.

"It will not be by statements, but by rockets toward Sderot and all the Zionist community. It will be by self-sacrificing martyrs who will blow up themselves in every corner."

The Hamas MP Mushir al-Masri told Hamas Radio that "all options are open for the resistance groups to deliver a message to the enemy that must equal the magnitude of Abu Samhadana's loss".

Micky Rosenfeld, an Israeli police spokesman, said security forces were aware of calls for revenge and would take "general precautions".

A makeshift mosque has been set up at a stadium in Rafah, with thousands expected to attend funeral prayers for Samhadana.

His recent appointment to the interior ministry angered Israel and the Palestinian opposition group Fatah, and was condemned by the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas.

However, Palestinian groups including Fatah condemned the killing and said it would not stop attacks on Israel but would fuel them.

Ibrahim Atwan, a neighbour of Samhadana, said he had wanted to die a "martyr's death". "I feel humbled because men like him gave their lives as a price for their beliefs, and to defend us," he said.

His wife, Iman, said she hoped one of her children would "follow in his footsteps".