Israel killed a member of the Hamas military council, Bassem Issa, Wednesday as the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) continue to hammer the violent terror group.
Israel claimed, and Hamas confirmed, that the IDF had killed Issa and a handful of other senior Hamas militants in an air strike Wednesday, according to The Associated Press. Hamas’ admission is the first time that the terror group has confirmed the death of any of its officers in the current bout of violence.
The military council on which Bassem sat directs all military action taken by the terror group and is headed by Mohammed Deif. Bassem is the highest-ranking Hamas militant to be killed in Israel since 2014.
Issa and “other leaders and holy warriors” died in the air strike, Hamas said in a statement. “The confrontation with the enemy is open-ended,” it continued, according to Reuters.
Israeli airstrikes have taken out a number of top militants in Hamas. On Tuesday, the IDF killed Iyad Fathi Faik Sharir, the commander of Hamas’ anti-tank missile unit, and Hassan Kaogi, who led the terror groups military intelligence security department.
Hamas initiated the current conflict earlier this week, launching dozens of rockets aimed at Israeli neighborhoods. Militants have sent hundreds of rockets into densely populated areas of Israel such as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, endangering hundreds of thousands of Jewish and Arab Israelis.
Israel’s Iron Dome, a missile defense system, blows up most rockets midair, but some occasionally get past the system. In one case, a Hamas rocket hit a school, injuring three Israelis. Authorities had earlier ordered the school evacuated due to the Hamas attacks and the school’s position within 25 miles of the Gaza border.
Naftali Bennett, a member of Israel’s Knesset and head of the Yamina party, issued a clear ultimatum to Hamas militants on Wednesday: surrender or die.
“It’s up to Hamas as long as Hamas keeps [attacking Israel] in order to murder Israelis across the state — by the way, Arabs and Jews alike,” Bennett said during an interview on the Arabic news channel Al Jazeera. “Hamas already murdered two Arab Israelis in the city of Lod, a dad, 52 years old, and his daughter Nadin, 16 years old, Israeli Arabs who were murdered. A Holocaust survivor, 85 years old, was murdered by Hamas, in her wheelchair.”
“If Hamas thinks they can get away with this, they’re wrong. We’ll hunt down every commander, every post, until we win,” Bennett said.
Bennett said the Hamas militants were “stupid and wrong” to attack Israel, spending aid money on building rockets rather than providing for their own people.
“Instead of taking its money and investing in hospitals, in schools, in building a future for its people, [Hamas is] spending all its money on terror, on trying to kill Israelis. It’s both stupid and wrong. It’s stupid because they are not going to succeed because we’re strong and we are going to defend ourselves. And, you know, I am in the position now, but make no mistake, we are all united, we stand strong united. And there’s one way for this to stop: For Hamas to lay down its arms. And then, it’ll stop,” Bennett said.