Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon declared on Thursday that Israel will continue to target the heads of the Hamas terrorist group “at any time and in any place”.
“The Hamas commanders who were assassinated last night are responsible for many big terror attacks against Israeli citizens and IDF soldiers as well as the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit,” Ya’alon said, hours after three senior Hamas commanders were killed in an Israeli airstrike in southern Gaza.
“This is an intelligence and operational achievement of the IDF and the Shabak (Israel Security agency -ed.) that are working night and day for the security of the citizens of Israel, and I appreciate them for this,” he added.
"We will continue to seek and hit the heads of the Hamas, at any time, in any place. We will reach anyone who tries to harm the people of Israel,” he warned.
“This war is long, as we can see. We need patience, determination and steadfastness,” said Ya’alon, adding, “We are acting responsibly and with much thought, with one goal - to bring back safety and quiet to the citizens of Israel in general and the residents of the south specifically.”
“We will not compromise,” he stressed.
Hamas has identified the three eliminated leaders as Mohammed Abu Shamalah, Raed al-Attar and Mohammed Barhum.
Mohammed Abu Shamalah, 40, was the most senior Hamas commander in southern Gaza, classified by security services as the head of the "Southern Command" of Hamas. Abu Shamalah was responsible for the areas of Rafiah and Khan Younis, and is a longtime friend and associate of the elusive leader of Hamas’s “military wing”, Mohammed Deif, who was himself targeted in an IDF strike a day earlier - a strike he is believed to have survived.
He was also a close associate of Raed al-Atar, another leading Hamas commander eliminated in this morning's strike.
Together, they have been involved in dozens of deadly terrorist attacks since the 1990s. Most famously, the pair planned and coordinated the 2006 attack on the Kerem Shalom crossing with Gaza in which two IDF soldiers were killed and Gilad Shalit was taken hostage.