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Israeli airstrike kills top Hamas commander

Ayman Nofal is the most high-profile militant known to have been killed so far in Hamas' war with Israel.
Posted at 1:40 PM, Oct 17, 2023

An Israeli airstrike killed a top Hamas commander in the Gaza Strip.

The terrorist group's military wing said Ayman Nofal was killed during a strike on the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza. He is the most high-profile militant known to have been killed so far in Hamas' war with Israel. 

Nofal was in charge of Hamas militant activities in the central Gaza Strip and was associated with the creation of the group's "joint operations" room that coordinated among Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other militants in the territory. 

The attack happened in an area where Israel had previously ordered civilians to evacuate.

Israel's military said it had been targeting Hamas hideouts, infrastructure and command centers.

"When we see a target, when we see something moving that is Hamas, we'll take care of it," Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Hecht said.

The U.N. human rights office decried "appalling reports" that civilians who were trying to flee to southern Gaza were killed by a military strike. Spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani urged Israeli forces to avoid "aerial bombardments, indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks" and to "take precautions to avoid – and in any case, to minimize – loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects."

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Israel sealed off Gaza since the terrorist attack on southern Israel Oct. 7 killed over 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and resulted in some 200 taken captive in Gaza. Hamas militants in Gaza have launched rockets every day since, aiming at cities across Israel. 

Israeli strikes on Gaza have killed at least 2,778 people and wounded 9,700, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Nearly two-thirds of those killed were children, a ministry official said. 

Another 1,200 people across Gaza are believed to be buried under the rubble, alive or dead, health authorities said. Emergency teams struggled to rescue people while cut off from the internet and mobile networks, running out of fuel and exposed to unceasing airstrikes.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that his country's retaliation against Hamas aims to eradicate the group's political and military rule over Gaza. 

''We are not fighting just our war. We're fighting the war of all civilized countries and all civilized peoples," he said.

Israeli troops have amassed in south Israel near the Gaza border in preparation for an expected ground offensive aimed at Hamas targets. Hecht said that no concrete decisions have been made.

U.S. President Joe Biden will travel to Israel Wednesday, which makes it unlikely the Jewish nation will launch a ground attack into Gaza before then. A total of 31 Americans are confirmed dead in the Middle East and 13 remain unaccounted for, according to a U.S. State Department spokesperson.

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