An Israeli aircraft attacked a motorcycle in Gaza on Tuesday, killing a man whom the military said was a top operative in a shadowy al-Qaida-influenced group who had been involved in a recent rocket attack on southern Israel.
It was the first such targeted airstrike in Gaza since a truce was reached with Hamas last November, and is the most serious test yet of the Egyptian-brokered agreement.
The aircraft hit the motorcycle northwest of Gaza City, killing the driver and wounded a passenger. A bystander was also wounded, according to Gaza officials.
The IDF said it killed Haitham Mishal, describing him as a jihadi terrorist involved in an April 17 rocket attack on Eilat and other acts of violence. Ashraf al-Kidra, Gaza’s Health Ministry spokesman, said Mishal was a policeman.
Israeli military said Mishal was involved in the Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Yerushalayim, a murky al-Qaida-inspired group that has claimed responsibility for a number of rocket attacks, including Eilat’s.
It said Mishal “has been a key terror figure, specializing in weapons and working with all of the terror organizations in the Gaza Strip.” It said he manufactured weapons and specialized in rockets and explosive devices that he sold to terrorist groups.
Hamas condemned the Israeli attack but also signaled that it is eager to preserve the truce.
“We call on Egypt to put pressure on Israel…to force them to honor the truce…” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.