PA Government Official Killed in IAF Strike

The Israel Air Force struck a Gaza terrorist base late Thursday night, killing Jamal Abu Samhadana, a wanted terrorist and Hamas government official. Three Kassams were fired at Sderot today.

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Hana Levi Julian and Hillel Fendel, | updated: 00:32

The IAF craft attacked a training camp of the Salah al-Din Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), in the southern Gaza town of Rafiah. Four missiles were fired in the strike, which killed at least three other terrorists were killed and wounded ten.

Abu Samhadana, founder and leader of the Fatah splinter group, the PRC, was the director-general of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority interior ministry. He was appointed to the post a short time after his release from an Israeli prison.

Asher Mivtzari, a spokesman for the Gush Katif community of Kfar Darom whose members are now residing in an Asheklon high-rise, said, "We congratulate the IDF and everyone who was involved in the liquidation of this arch-murderer, on whose hands was the blood of the Hatuel family, the victims of the Kfar Darom bus bombing, and the victims of many other attacks."

Mivtzari told the NRG site, "We are definitely pleased [with this development], and we see it as the beginning of the correct steps by the government and the IDF in firmly fighting terrorism. We call for the killing of other terrorists, as well as further steps."

Response from the Hamas-led government was quick and sharp. "Israel knows that Abu Samhadana works in the government and by killing him they are sending a message that all its members, from the prime minister to junior employees are targets for death," said PA cabinet secretary Ghazi Hamad.

Abu Samhadana had survived at least four previous assassination attempts. He was on Israel’s most wanted terrorist list from the time of the first intifada, and was suspected of having played a key role in the 2003 bombing of a U.S. convoy in Gaza, in which three Americans were killed.

The targeted camp is located on the ruins of the former Jewish community Slav in southern Gush Katif, which the government demolished last summer in preparation for its pullout from the area. Terrorists were being trained there to launch a large-scale attack on Israel, an IDF spokeswoman said.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz ordered defense personnel on Thursday to ratchet up the pressure on the Kassam rocket cells and to target "anyone" behind the attacks - including Hamas officials. "No terrorist from any of the organizations will be immune if they engage in anti-Israel terror activity," Peretz told officials.

Meanwhile, the PRC vowed there would be reprisals for the Israeli action. "The Zionist entity and Zionist settlements near Gaza will not feel security and safety anymore,” a PRC spokesman threatened. “Our rockets will rain into the Zionist entity and our heroes will blow themselves up among their dirty bodies,” he warned.

Arabs in northern PA-controlled Gaza fired three Kassam rockets towards Sderot today - two before dawn and one around 11 AM. None of them caused damage. Israel Navy ships fired artillery shells at the launching areas.