An Israeli warplane attacked the Gaza Strip today, killing 29-year-old Haitham al-Meshal in what appears to be the first deliberate targeting of a person since the November Gaza war.
Israeli officials say Meshal was a rocket-making expert, and accused him of involvement in a Sinai Peninsula rocket attack earlier this month. He was described on an Islamist website as the leader of the Magles Shoura al-Mujahideen, the group that claimed credit for the attack.
A Gaza Salafist group called The Sword of Islam threatened retaliation for the killing, saying that they will avenge Meshal and “the response will come very soon.” The group has been fighting with Hamas for some time and is opposed to the Egypt-brokered ceasefire.
Hamas issued a statement nominally condemning the attack, urging Egypt to prevent a “dangerous escalation,” but didn’t appear to be particularly concerned, as the Salafist groups are causing as much trouble for Hamas as anybody.
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