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Hamas commander assassinated by Israel

  • Palestinian men react at hospital after the body of Ahmed Jabari, head of the Hamas military wing, was brought,  in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

    Palestinian men react at hospital after the body of Ahmed Jabari, head of the Hamas military wing, was brought, in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

  • Palestinian men react at hospital after the body of Ahmed Jabari, head of the Hamas military wing, was brought,  in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

    Palestinian men react at hospital after the body of Ahmed Jabari, head of the Hamas military wing, was brought, in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

  • Palestinian men react at hospital after the body of Ahmed Jabari, head of the Hamas military wing, was brought,  in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

    Palestinian men react at hospital after the body of Ahmed Jabari, head of the Hamas military wing, was brought, in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

  • Jihad Masharawi weeps while he holds the body of his 11-month old son Ahmad, at Shifa hospital following an Israeli air strike on their family house, in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari, marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)

    Jihad Masharawi weeps while he holds the body of his 11-month old son Ahmad, at Shifa hospital following an Israeli air strike on their family house, in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari, marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)

  • Jihad Masharawi weeps while he holds the body of his 11-month old son Ahmad, at Shifa hospital following an Israeli air strike on their family house, in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari, marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)

    Jihad Masharawi weeps while he holds the body of his 11-month old son Ahmad, at Shifa hospital following an Israeli air strike on their family house, in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari, marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)

  • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to the media at Hakirya a military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Israel's prime minister says the military is prepared to broaden its operation against Hamas targets in Gaza. Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel cannot tolerate continued rocket attacks against its citizens. In his first comments since Israel killed the commander of the Hamas military wing, Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel is "prepared to expand the operation". (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

    Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to the media at Hakirya a military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Israel's prime minister says the military is prepared to broaden its operation against Hamas targets in Gaza. Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel cannot tolerate continued rocket attacks against its citizens. In his first comments since Israel killed the commander of the Hamas military wing, Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel is "prepared to expand the operation". (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

  • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to the media at Hakirya a military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Israel's prime minister says the military is prepared to broaden its operation against Hamas targets in Gaza. Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel cannot tolerate continued rocket attacks against its citizens. In his first comments since Israel killed the commander of the Hamas military wing, Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel is "prepared to expand the operation". (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

    Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to the media at Hakirya a military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Israel's prime minister says the military is prepared to broaden its operation against Hamas targets in Gaza. Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel cannot tolerate continued rocket attacks against its citizens. In his first comments since Israel killed the commander of the Hamas military wing, Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel is "prepared to expand the operation". (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

  • People look at a wreckage of the car in which was killed Ahmed Jabari, head of the Hamas military wing in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

    People look at a wreckage of the car in which was killed Ahmed Jabari, head of the Hamas military wing in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

  • A Palestinian relative carries a wounded girl into the treatment room of Shifa hospital following an Israeli airstrike, in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari, marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)

    A Palestinian relative carries a wounded girl into the treatment room of Shifa hospital following an Israeli airstrike, in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari, marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)

  • A Palestinian relative carries a wounded girl into the treatment room of Shifa hospital following an Israeli airstrike, in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari, marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)

    A Palestinian relative carries a wounded girl into the treatment room of Shifa hospital following an Israeli airstrike, in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari, marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)

  • A Palestinian relative carries a wounded girl into the treatment room of Shifa hospital following an Israeli airstrike, in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari, marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)

    A Palestinian relative carries a wounded girl into the treatment room of Shifa hospital following an Israeli airstrike, in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari, marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)

  • Palestinian medics wheel a wounded child into the treatment room of Shifa hospital following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari, marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)

    Palestinian medics wheel a wounded child into the treatment room of Shifa hospital following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari, marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)

  • Palestinian medics wheel a wounded child into the treatment room of Shifa hospital following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari, marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)

    Palestinian medics wheel a wounded child into the treatment room of Shifa hospital following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari, marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)

  • RETRANSMISSION FOR ALTERNATE CROP - FILE - In this Oct. 18, 2011 file photograph, released Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, right, is escorted by commander of the Hamas military wing Ahmad Jabari on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing. Israel killed Jabari in Gaza on Wednesday in one of more than 20 airstrikes that marked the worst barrage in four years on the Palestinian territory after a new round of rocket fire hit southern Israel earlier this week. (AP Photo/Khalid Farid, File)

    RETRANSMISSION FOR ALTERNATE CROP - FILE - In this Oct. 18, 2011 file photograph, released Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, right, is escorted by commander of the Hamas military wing Ahmad Jabari on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing. Israel killed Jabari in Gaza on Wednesday in one of more than 20 airstrikes that marked the worst barrage in four years on the Palestinian territory after a new round of rocket fire hit southern Israel earlier this week. (AP Photo/Khalid Farid, File)

  • RETRANSMISSION FOR ALTERNATE CROP - FILE - In this Oct. 18, 2011 file photograph, released Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, right, is escorted by commander of the Hamas military wing Ahmad Jabari on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing. Israel killed Jabari in Gaza on Wednesday in one of more than 20 airstrikes that marked the worst barrage in four years on the Palestinian territory after a new round of rocket fire hit southern Israel earlier this week. (AP Photo/Khalid Farid, File)

    RETRANSMISSION FOR ALTERNATE CROP - FILE - In this Oct. 18, 2011 file photograph, released Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, right, is escorted by commander of the Hamas military wing Ahmad Jabari on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing. Israel killed Jabari in Gaza on Wednesday in one of more than 20 airstrikes that marked the worst barrage in four years on the Palestinian territory after a new round of rocket fire hit southern Israel earlier this week. (AP Photo/Khalid Farid, File)

  • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks on as Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak, left, goes to deliver a statement to the media at Hakirya a military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Israel's prime minister says the military is prepared to broaden its operation against Hamas targets in Gaza. Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel cannot tolerate continued rocket attacks against its citizens. In his first comments since Israel killed the commander of the Hamas military wing, Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel is "prepared to expand the operation". (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

    Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks on as Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak, left, goes to deliver a statement to the media at Hakirya a military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Israel's prime minister says the military is prepared to broaden its operation against Hamas targets in Gaza. Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel cannot tolerate continued rocket attacks against its citizens. In his first comments since Israel killed the commander of the Hamas military wing, Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel is "prepared to expand the operation". (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

  • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks on as Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak, left, goes to deliver a statement to the media at Hakirya a military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Israel's prime minister says the military is prepared to broaden its operation against Hamas targets in Gaza. Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel cannot tolerate continued rocket attacks against its citizens. In his first comments since Israel killed the commander of the Hamas military wing, Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel is "prepared to expand the operation". (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

    Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks on as Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak, left, goes to deliver a statement to the media at Hakirya a military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Israel's prime minister says the military is prepared to broaden its operation against Hamas targets in Gaza. Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel cannot tolerate continued rocket attacks against its citizens. In his first comments since Israel killed the commander of the Hamas military wing, Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel is "prepared to expand the operation". (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

  • Palestinian men react at hospital after the body of Ahmed Jabari, head of the Hamas military wing, was brought,  in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
  • Palestinian men react at hospital after the body of Ahmed Jabari, head of the Hamas military wing, was brought,  in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
  • Palestinian men react at hospital after the body of Ahmed Jabari, head of the Hamas military wing, was brought,  in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
  • Jihad Masharawi weeps while he holds the body of his 11-month old son Ahmad, at Shifa hospital following an Israeli air strike on their family house, in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari, marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)
  • Jihad Masharawi weeps while he holds the body of his 11-month old son Ahmad, at Shifa hospital following an Israeli air strike on their family house, in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari, marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)
  • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to the media at Hakirya a military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Israel's prime minister says the military is prepared to broaden its operation against Hamas targets in Gaza. Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel cannot tolerate continued rocket attacks against its citizens. In his first comments since Israel killed the commander of the Hamas military wing, Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel is "prepared to expand the operation". (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
  • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to the media at Hakirya a military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Israel's prime minister says the military is prepared to broaden its operation against Hamas targets in Gaza. Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel cannot tolerate continued rocket attacks against its citizens. In his first comments since Israel killed the commander of the Hamas military wing, Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel is "prepared to expand the operation". (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
  • People look at a wreckage of the car in which was killed Ahmed Jabari, head of the Hamas military wing in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
  • A Palestinian relative carries a wounded girl into the treatment room of Shifa hospital following an Israeli airstrike, in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari, marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)
  • A Palestinian relative carries a wounded girl into the treatment room of Shifa hospital following an Israeli airstrike, in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari, marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)
  • A Palestinian relative carries a wounded girl into the treatment room of Shifa hospital following an Israeli airstrike, in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari, marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)
  • Palestinian medics wheel a wounded child into the treatment room of Shifa hospital following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari, marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)
  • Palestinian medics wheel a wounded child into the treatment room of Shifa hospital following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari, marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)
  • RETRANSMISSION FOR ALTERNATE CROP - FILE - In this Oct. 18, 2011 file photograph, released Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, right, is escorted by commander of the Hamas military wing Ahmad Jabari on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing. Israel killed Jabari in Gaza on Wednesday in one of more than 20 airstrikes that marked the worst barrage in four years on the Palestinian territory after a new round of rocket fire hit southern Israel earlier this week. (AP Photo/Khalid Farid, File)
  • RETRANSMISSION FOR ALTERNATE CROP - FILE - In this Oct. 18, 2011 file photograph, released Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, right, is escorted by commander of the Hamas military wing Ahmad Jabari on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing. Israel killed Jabari in Gaza on Wednesday in one of more than 20 airstrikes that marked the worst barrage in four years on the Palestinian territory after a new round of rocket fire hit southern Israel earlier this week. (AP Photo/Khalid Farid, File)
  • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks on as Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak, left, goes to deliver a statement to the media at Hakirya a military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Israel's prime minister says the military is prepared to broaden its operation against Hamas targets in Gaza. Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel cannot tolerate continued rocket attacks against its citizens. In his first comments since Israel killed the commander of the Hamas military wing, Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel is "prepared to expand the operation". (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
  • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks on as Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak, left, goes to deliver a statement to the media at Hakirya a military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Israel's prime minister says the military is prepared to broaden its operation against Hamas targets in Gaza. Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel cannot tolerate continued rocket attacks against its citizens. In his first comments since Israel killed the commander of the Hamas military wing, Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel is "prepared to expand the operation". (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Israel carried out a blistering offensive of more than 20 airstrikes in the Gaza Strip yesterday, assassinating Hamas’s military commander and targeting the armed group’s training facilities and rocket launchers in Israel’s most intense attack on the territory in nearly four years.

Israel said the airstrikes, launched in response to days of rocket fire out of Hamas-ruled Gaza, were the beginning of a broader operation against the Islamic militants codenamed “Pillar of Defense.” Israeli defense officials said a ground operation was a strong possibility in the coming days though they stressed no decisions had been made and much would depend on Hamas’s reaction. There were no immediate signs of extraordinary troop deployments along the border.

The attack came at a time when Israel seems to be under fire from all directions. Relations have been deteriorating with Egypt’s new Islamist government, Egypt’s lawless Sinai desert has become a staging ground for militant attacks on Israel, and the Syrian civil war has begun to spill over Israel’s northern border. Earlier this week, Israel fired back at Syria – for the first time in nearly 40 years – after stray mortar fire landed in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.

With at least 10 Palestinians dead, including two young children, yesterday’s offensive was certain to set off a new round of heavy fighting with Gaza militants, who have built up a formidable arsenal of rockets and missiles.

It also threatened to upset Israel’s relations with neighboring Egypt and shake up the campaign for Israeli elections in January. In a preliminary response, Egypt recalled its ambassador to Israel in protest.

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