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Israeli strikes kill members of Hamas leadership

August 21, 2014 at 6:40 PM EST
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Following this week’s cease-fire collapse, there was heavy fighting again today between Israel and Hamas. Members of the Palestinian group’s military leadership were among the casualties. Hari is back with that.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Thousands marched through the streets of Gaza today in the funeral procession of three senior Hamas military commanders. The men, identified as Mohamed Abu Shamala and Raed al-Attar, plus Mohammed Barhoum, were killed by a pre-dawn Israeli airstrike. The militant group quickly decried the killing.

SAMI ABU ZUHRI, Hamas Spokesman (through interpreter): The assassination of the al-Qassam leaders in Rafah is a big Israeli crime that will not succeed in breaking the will of our people. And the occupation will pay the price, God willing.

HARI SREENIVASAN: But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meeting with U.S. Congressman Darrell Issa, hailed the intelligence behind the attack and vowed there’s more to come.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Prime Minister, Israel (through interpreter): I want to commend the excellent work of the operational and intelligence units of the Shin Bet security service. We will continue to work together to reach the targets, to restore peace and security for an extended period to the citizens of Israel.

HARI SREENIVASAN: A day earlier, an Israeli airstrike missed Mohammed Deif, the top Hamas commander, but his wife and infant son were killed.

Ordinary Gazans appealed today for an end to the aerial assault.

AMAL LADIYALI (through interpreter): Every day, there are men, women, elderly people, and children getting killed, everybody. They mock us by giving us a bit of food to distract us. They are killing us and burying us at the same time.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Meanwhile, a mortar round fired from Gaza seriously wounded one man in Southern Israel today. Overall, more than 100 rockets were fired, leaving Israelis within their reach to ponder staying or leaving.

LARRY BUTLER: This is my home, and I will stay here. And I just hope these people — maybe — it will all calm down. It has to calm down. It can’t get much worse.

HARI SREENIVASAN: It was the June killing of three Israeli teenagers and the apparent revenge killing of a Palestinian teen that sparked this conflict. A top Hamas official has now acknowledged for the first time that his group kidnapped the Israeli teens.

There were also accusations about the collapse of peace talks in Egypt this week. Officials of the Palestinian Authority, which rules the West Bank, claimed the Gulf state of Qatar pressured Hamas to scuttle the effort.