The airstrike collapsed a two-story building in the Arab town of Sheikh Raduan. Deif, who is the leader of Hamas’ military wing, was wounded in the airstrike. Deif is considered to be amongst Israel’s “most wanted terrorists.”

Amid varying reports that Deif was killed, or escaped, the severity of his injuries remain unknown. An IDF spokesman confirmed, "We know he was injured, but not to what degree."

In addition, six were killed in the IDF strike and 36 were wounded. Among those killed, according to Arab reports, are Hamas member Nabil Abu Salmiyeh, a lecturer at the Islamic university.

Senior Hamas terrorist Achmad Gandor, was reported to have been critically wounded in the attack. Gandor was responsible for the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit and the murder of two Israeli soldiers during a recent raid on an Israeli military post.

The IDF carried out the strike after learning that senior Hamas terrorists were hiding in the building. Those inside were responsible for several terror attacks and the firing of Kassam rockets, according to the IDF. The army also possessed intelligence that the terrorists were planning to carry out additional attacks.

According to an IDF spokesman, the army may target any building if intelligence suggests senior terrorists are inside.

For the first time since IDF incursions into the Gaza Strip began two-weeks ago, the IDF entered central Gaza, with media reporting that the army has divided the entire strip into two sections beginning near the Kissufim crossing.

An IDF spokesman would not confirm that the strip was being divided into two, or that soldiers had taken up positions in the remains of Gush Katif. Kissufim previously served as the main entrance to the 21 abandoned and demolished Jewish communities of Gush Katif.

According to the spokesman, the primary purpose of the central Gaza mission is “to search for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.”

In a separate airstrike near Kissufim, the IDF targeted armed gunmen. In Gaza city, the IDF fired from the air on a vehicle containing explosive devices and Kassam rockets to be used in future attacks on Israeli soldiers or civilians.

In addition to firing missiles from the air, the IDF has been dropping leaflets containing a strong warning to civilians in Gaza. The leaflets caution Arabs to steer clear of areas in which the IDF is operating against terror infrastructures.

The text of the leaflet follows:

The IDF is carrying out operations throughout the Gaza Strip. The operations will last as long as needed.

The objective of the operation is to determine the whereabouts of our abducted soldier, Gilad Shalit, to bring about his release, and to ensure the safety of Israel citizens.

For your safety, and as we want to prevent any harm to civilians who are not involved in attacking our forces, you should stay clear of areas where the IDF is operating and adhere to instructions from IDF forces.

People who try to disrupt the IDF's activities which are meant to ensure the safe return of our soldier, do so at their own risk.

”A terrorist mastermind”

The IDF referred to Deif as a “terrorist mastermind” responsible for the murder of dozens of Israeli citizens, through the planning of numerous suicide attacks. The IDF had tried unsuccessfully to assassinate Deif on at least three occasions. Deif has been in hiding since 1992.

Deif took command of Hamas’ military wing in 1996 following the assassination of former chief Yehya Ayash, who was known as “the engineer.” Deif has been responsible for several attacks within the Gaza Strip and the biblical Jewish provinces of Judea and Samaria. Deif has also been involved in the development of Kassam rockets.

Deif stated on Al-Jazeera this past week that “all the land conquered in 1948 is Palestine’s land. Every Muslim in the world has the right and duty to fight in order to liberate this land because it is Muslim land.”

"We are a nation which has been defeated, deprived and expelled from our

lands, and we are operating to obtain what we deserve - what we had before

1948. Then there was no state called Israel. This occupation state was

founded due to a United Nations decision. One can still see that all the UN

rules apply to the weak side and not to the Israeli entity," he said.

"We did not carry out attacks against Israel, but as retaliation acts," Deif said.

Deif has been an IDF target despite pleas by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to spare the terror mastermind. Several attempts to assassinate Deif have been unsuccessful, although a previous attempt may have injured Deif in the face and head.