It appears the Israeli military plans to employ “targeted killings” of Hamas leaders, according to a new statement.
The Israeli Defense Forces suggest that Hamas operatives at any level should not go out in public in the coming days, according to a tweet from the IDF confirmed Twitter account.
We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead.
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) November 14, 2012
The killing of the top Hamas military chief Wednesday could indicate Israel has started to use a controversial tactic in an attempt to quell the barrage of rockets from Gaza that it says threatens millions of its citizens.
Ahmed Said Khalil al-Jaabari was traveling in a car in Gaza City when it exploded Wednesday, the BBC reports witnesses as saying. The operation was designed to "impair the command and control chain of the Hamas leadership," according to the Israeli military and domestic intelligence service, Shin Bet.
The Israeli Air Force also attacked 20 underground sites supposedly housing long-range missiles capable of striking Tel Aviv, The Jerusalem Post reports. An Israeli official tells U.S. News that ground forces are on "high alert" near the Gaza border, "ready to act, if necessary."
"Jabari was responsible for financing and directing military operations and attacks against Israel," according to a Shin Bet statement. "His elimination today is a message to Hamas officials in Gaza that if they continue promoting terrorism against Israel, they will be hurt."
Israeli officials, including the country's vice prime minister and ambassador to the U.S., have said the Jewish state has considered "targeted killings" of leaders of the militant group that governs the Gaza Strip. Israel employed this approach against Hamas roughly a decade ago, which critics say will only incites more violence.
Hamas' radio station, along with smaller militant groups, immediately called for revenge, according to The Daily Star of Lebanon.
"We will consider a range of options, anything to protect our citizens," Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren told U.S. News on Tuesday.
"We are exercising our fundamental rights," he says. "These are terrorists."
Supporters say this tactic eliminates the planning element of Hamas leadership. Detractors say it invites attacks on Israeli leaders.
Hamas has launched roughly 80 rockets from Gaza into Israel in the last week, the Israeli government says. This adds to the roughly 800 launched this year.
The country's new "Iron Dome" missile defense system protects it from roughly 85 percent of these attacks, Oren says.
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Paul D. Shinkman is a national security reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Corrected on : 11/14/12, 3:50 p.m.: This story was updated to include a tweet from IDF.