The air force carried out a targeted assassination of two very senior Hamas terrorists and a lower ranking terrorist in the Gaza Strip overnight.
An IAF aircraft, guided by information obtained by the Shin Bet [Israel Security Agency], fired missiles at a building in Rafah that housed Ra’ad Atar and Muhammad Abu Smalla, killing them both, security forces said.
A third Hamas terrorist, Muhammed Barhoum, described by security sources as an abettor to the senior Hamas members, was also killed in the strike.
“This strike represents a very significant intelligence achievement, and an intelligence infiltration,” a security source told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
The attack came after the Shin Bet received intelligence on the location of the terrorists, security forces added, describing the targets as men who were senior and central members of Hamas’s military wing.
Abu Smalla, 39, was the most senior Hamas leader in southern Gaza (and was dubbed as “Hamas’s southern commander” by the Shin Bet). He was responsible for operations in all of Rafah and Khan Younes. The Shin Bet said he commanded over all combat in his sector, and was a long-time member of Hamas’s core leadership in the Izzadin Al-Kassam Brigades.
He began terrorist activities in the early 1990s with Hamas military wing chief Muhammed Deif, and was directly involved in carrying out and orchestrating dozens of attacks on Israel, including the murder of an IDF officer in Rafah in 1994, an attack that killed six soldiers with bomb-laden tunnels in 2004, and orchestrating a bombing of the Kerem
Shalom border crossing in 2008, in which booby trapped jeeps were used. Thirteen soldiers were injured in that attack.
Abu Smalla was one of the main planners of the Kerem Shalom tunnel attack in 2006, in which two IDF soldiers were killed and Gilad Schalit was kidnapped.
During the current war, he was responsible for overseeing the infiltration of 13 Hamas terrorists into Israel via a tunnel in the Kibbutz Sufa area.
Ra’ad Atar, 39, was a Hamas brigade commander in southern Gaza, and a senior member of the military wing. The Shin Bet said he was an architect of the Hamas offensive tunnel network in south Gaza.
He served as a commander of Hamas operations in his sector, and headed attacks on the Kerem Hashalom and Sufa regions in Israel.
Atar took part in a long line of deadly attacks on IDF soldiers over the past twenty years, including: an attack in July 2004 on the Israel – Egypt border that killed an IDF officer; planning and carrying out a plot to bomb an IDF post which killed four soldiers; and taking part and planning an infiltration of an IDF post near Kerem Shalom that killed four soldiers.
“Since then, he was involved in commanding and orchestrating many bombings,” the Shin Bet said. “Atar headed the Rafah brigade, which killed and kidnapped the body of Sec.-Lt. Hadar Goldin, and was involved in additional incidents in which IDF soldiers were harmed during Operation Protective Edge,” the intelligence agency said.
via The Jerusalem Post