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Hamas Says Airstrike Killed 3 Senior Commanders

Palestinian emergency personnel dig through the rubble of a building destroyed by an Israeli military strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday. Hamas announced that three of its senior military commanders were killed in a predawn Israeli airstrike.

An Israeli attack on a house has killed three military commanders in Gaza, Hamas says, including one of the group's most senior leaders. Thursday's strike follows an Israeli attack on the top Hamas military leader earlier this week.

From Gaza, NPR's Philip Reeves reports:

"The attack happened overnight and targeted a residential house in Rafah close to Gaza's border with Egypt."The three men were commanders in the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas. Hamas named one as Raed al Attar, their most important commander in southern Gaza. He was reportedly involved in the kidnapping of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was released in a prisoner exchange three years ago."These killings come a day after hundreds of Palestinians turned out on the streets for the funeral of the wife and infant son of Hamas' top military commander Mohammed Deif. Hamas says the two were the victims of a failed assassination attempt against Deif himself."

The attacks came amid new exchanges of missiles and rockets between Israel and militants in Gaza, after a temporary cease-fire fell apart early this week.

The BBC reports, "Six weeks of fierce fighting have left at least 2,103 people dead, all but 67 of them Palestinians and most of them said to be civilians."

Welcoming the news of Thursday's successful attack in Rafah, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked the Shin Bet, the country's domestic security service.

"The extraordinary intelligence gathered by the Shin Bet through hard work and professionalism, together with the precise execution capabilities of the IDF, enabled us to decide to carry out this operation against the Hamas leaders who plotted fatal attacks against Israelis," Netanyahu said, according to Haaretz.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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