A senior Hamas leader was killed in an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip Sunday night, Arab sources have reported. At least six other terrorists were also killed in the strike, Gaza hospitals reported.
According to the reports, an IDF attack involving roughly a dozen missile strikes in the southern Gaza Strip Sunday night killed multiple Hamas terrorists, including a senior commander of Hamas’ Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.
The missiles reportedly struck targets in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis.
At least six terrorists were killed, and according to the Gaza health ministry, Nur Barakeh, the deputy commander of the al-Qassam Brigades, was one of the fatalities. A second fatality was identified as Muhammed Al-Qara, an aide to Barakeh.
The Israeli military confirmed that there had been military activity in the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave Sunday night, but declined to provide details, describing the incident merely as an “exchange of fire”.
“During IDF operational activity in the Gaza Strip, an exchange of fire evolved,” and IDF spokesperson said.
The IDF denied claims that an IDF soldier was taken captive during the fighting Sunday.
“No IDF soldiers were abducted during the IDF's operational activity in the Gaza Strip,” a spokesperson said.
An IDF spokesman said that all IDF soldiers involved in the engagement had returned to Israeli soil, without providing details as to their condition.
“The IDF operated in the Gaza Strip, exchange of gunfire ensued. All IDF soldiers back in Israel. Several alarms have sounded in Southern Israel.”
Meanwhile, a series of rocket sirens were here heard in the Gaza envelope on Sunday night.
One rocket fired from the Gaza Strip exploded in an open area in the Eshkol Regional Council, causing no injuries. The Iron Dome system intercepted two other rockets that were launched from Gaza into Israeli territory.
Residents living in the Gaza envelope communities reported hearing loud explosions. Residents of the Eshkol Regional Council were instructed to remain close to protected spaces.
The Home Front Command announced that schools in the Gaza envelope will be closed on Monday due to the security situation.
Arab media outlets claimed that the strike was the culmination of an Israeli operation led by an undercover IDF special operations unit inside the Gaza Strip.
A report by the Wafa outlet claimed that Israeli F-16 fighter jets and Apache attack helicopters fired dozens of missiles at targets in eastern Khan Younis. Other Arab outlets claimed at least 40 missiles had been fired in the strikes.
The Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military-terrorist wing, issued a statement on Sunday night following reports of the shooting incident in southern Gaza.
"A special force of the Zionist enemy infiltrated using a civilian car in the area of the Shahid Ismail Abu Shanab mosque, 3 km east of Khan Younis. This force killed the commander of the Al-Qassam Brigades, Nur Barakeh. After they were exposed and our mujahideen persecuted them and reached contact with them, the enemy’s air force intervened and carried out attacks to cover the retreat of this force, and in the process some of our people were killed. The incident continues and our forces continue to respond to this dangerous Zionist aggression," said the statement.
A senior Israeli official said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu received an update on the security situation in Gaza, and has consulted with advisors via telephone, including with senior security officials.
Netanyahu is currently in Paris, attending an event hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. He is expected to cut his trip to Paris short and return to Israel on Sunday night.