The Hamas commander in charge of launching rockets into Israel from the Gaza City area was killed Saturday by Israeli ground fire, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.
Amir Mansi was also the leading Hamas authority on the Grad long-range missile-launching system, the IDF said.
Grad rockets have allowed Hamas to reach farther into Israel than in previous attacks. The rockets carry more explosives than the more primitive Qassam rockets typically used by Hamas, and some can travel as far as 25 miles.
The Israeli military said Mansi directed and actively fired dozens of rockets at Israel, killing and wounding Israeli civilians.
Mansi was spotted firing a rocket Saturday from the Jabel Rise area, east of Gaza City, during a ground force operation, the IDF said. Israeli forces opened fire, killing Mansi and wounding two other Hamas operatives, who were captured, the Israelis said.
Israelis say they are targeting rocket-launching sites, Hamas infrastructure and the movement’s leaders in an effort to stop militants from sending rockets into southern Israel.
Israel’s military operation in Gaza began with airstrikes December 27. A week later, the military launched a ground assault. Palestinian medical sources said that more than 800 Palestinians have been killed in the attacks, including 235 children, and about 3,300 people have been wounded. Thirteen Israelis, including 10 soldiers, have died since the operation began.