Israelis Kill 6 in Attack on Hamas Meeting
Wednesday, July 12, 2006; 2:28 AM
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -- Israeli aircraft blasted a house and killed at least six people in Gaza City early Wednesday during a high-level meeting of Hamas commanders, and Israel said the man who has topped its wanted list for a decade was wounded.
The military, which launched the attack as part of a two-week-old military offensive in the Gaza Strip to pressure Palestinians to release a captured Israeli soldier, said it didn't know how badly top Palestinian fugitive Mohammed Deif was hurt or where he was taken.
Abu Obeideh, spokesman for Hamas' military wing, said Deif was "in good health and in a good place," but offered no further details. He warned that the attack would "change all standards, opening new options that never have been used."
Deif, a master bombmaker, has been targeted several times in Israeli assassination attempts in the past. Israel holds him responsible for many suicide bombings in Israel over the past decade.
Nervous Hamas activists carefully inspected the bodies being brought into the hospital on Wednesday. At daybreak they disclosed that Raad Saed, a senior Gaza commander, was wounded and was being treated at a secret location.
Israel Army Radio said Ahmed Randouh, a Gaza commander involved in the Palestinian militant raid in which the Israeli soldier was captured, was also inside the house.
The huge explosion destroyed the house of Hamas activist Dr. Nabil al-Salmiah in the Sheik Radwan neighborhood, a Hamas stronghold in Gaza City. Health Minister Bassem Naim said at least six people were killed including two children, and about two dozen wounded.
Abu Obeideh issued an unusually strong condemnation, using language employed only when Israel has assassinated top Hamas leaders. "We will make the leaders of the Zionist regime regret this Nazi crime," said part of his long statement.
But Hamas officials said they did not know who was killed.
Witnesses said the house was struck by a missile fired from an Israeli warplane. The Israeli military said it attacked the house because it was a "meeting place for terrorists" who were planning attacks and rocket launching.
Palestinian rescue teams dodged broken water pipes and electricity wires to get to injured people screaming for help. The scene resembled the aftermath of a 2002 attack, when an Israeli warplane dropped a one-ton bomb on the house of a Hamas leader in Gaza, killing him and 14 other people, including nine children.
A neighbor, Safwan Amamour, 39, said he and his wife were cleaning their house next door when they heard a huge explosion, and he was hit by flying rubble.