GAZA CITY — The Israel Defense Forces said Sunday its air force attacked a car in Gaza City, killing a Hamas field commander.
The IDF identified the dead man as Khalid Abu Salmiya, a member of Hamas’ military wing, Izzedine al Qassam. The explosion was in the Nasser neighborhood near a Hamas stronghold.
“The [air force] targeted a vehicle carrying the head of the Hamas terrorist organizations in the Sheiq-Raduan neighborhood in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City,” an IDF news release said.
“[He] was a key figure in the producing and developing of weaponry, notably the Qassam rockets and was involved in the firing of Qassam rockets towards the [Israeli] city of Sderot.”
Hamas, a Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist organization, has been labeled by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization. The group’s military wing, Izzedine al Qassam, has admitted responsibility for terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians as well as attacks against the Israeli military
Palestinian witnesses said an Israeli rocket caused the blast.
The IDF said Salmiya learned about bomb-making from Sa’ed Arabid, an operative killed last year.
Medical officials in Gaza said at least eight other people were wounded, two of whom were in critical condition.
Shortly after the blast, Palestinian security forces arrested two Hamas leaders, prompting Palestinians to protest in the streets.
The IDF put Salmiya’s age at 33; a Hamas spokesman said he was 32.