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Hamas Leader Says 3 Sons, 4 Grandchildren Killed in 'Revenge' Israeli Attack
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By Associated Press
Published 2 months ago on
April 10, 2024

A man reacts next to the body of a boy killed in an Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip at al Aqsa Hospital in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, April 9, 2024. (AP/Abdel Kareem Hana)

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TEL AVIV, Israel — An Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip killed three sons and four grandchildren of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on Wednesday, relatives and official Hamas media said, with Haniyeh accusing Israel of acting in “the spirit of revenge and murder.”

Haniyeh’s sons are among the highest-profile figures to have been killed in the war so far. It was not immediately clear how their deaths might affect the months-long cease-fire talks being brokered by international mediators.

Haniyeh confirmed the deaths Wednesday in an interview with the Al Jazeera satellite channel, saying his sons “were martyred on the road to liberating Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

“The criminal enemy is driven by the spirit of revenge and murder and does not value any standards or laws,” he said in the phone interview.

Al-Aqsa TV said Hazem, Ameer, and Mohammed Haniyeh were killed in the strike near the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, where Ismail Haniyeh is originally from. Hamas said three of Haniyeh’s granddaughters and a grandson were also killed. Hamas did not disclose their ages.

The Israeli military said Mohammed and Hazem were Hamas military operatives and that Ameer was a cell commander. It said they had conducted militant activity in the central Gaza Strip, without elaborating. It did not comment about the grandchildren killed.

In his interview with Al Jazeera, Haniyeh said the killings would not pressure Hamas into softening its positions.

“The enemy believes that by targeting the families of the leaders, it will push them to give up the demands of our people,” he said. “Anyone who believes that targeting my sons will push Hamas to change its position is delusional.”

Haniyeh lives in exile in Qatar, where Al Jazeera is based. Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV station aired footage of Haniyeh receiving the news of the deaths while visiting wounded Palestinians who have been transported to a hospital in Doha. As an aide received the news on his phone, Haniyeh nodded, looked down at the ground and slowly walked out of the room.

“There is no might and no power but by God,” Haniyeh muttered. “May God make matters easy for them.”

Israeli War Cabinet Leader Declares Victory

Earlier, Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz said that Hamas had been defeated militarily, although he also said Israel will fight against it for years to come.

“From a military point of view, Hamas is defeated. Its fighters are eliminated or in hiding” and its capabilities “crippled,” Gantz said in a statement to the media in Sderot.

But, he added: “Fighting against Hamas will take time. Boys who are now in middle school will still fight in the Gaza Strip.”

Gantz reiterated the Israeli government’s commitment to go into Rafah, the city in the far southern tip of the Gaza Strip where more than half the territory’s population of 2.3 million people is now sheltering. “Wherever there are terrorist targets — the IDF will be there,” he said.

The strike came as Palestinians in Gaza marked a muted Eid al-Fitr holiday ending the holy fasting month of Ramadan, visiting the graves of loved ones killed in the war. In the Jabaliya refugee camp near Gaza City, people sat quietly by graves surrounded by buildings destroyed by Israel’s offensive in response to the deadly Hamas attack on Oct. 7.

Relatives of Israeli hostages held in Gaza and their supporters protest outside of the Prime Minister’s office to call for an immediate release of the captives for the Jewish holiday of Passover as the war cabinet meets in Jerusalem, Tuesday, April 9, 2024. (AP/Maya Alleruzzo)

The Biden-Netanyahu Rift

U.S. President Joe Biden has called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the war in Gaza a mistake and called for his government to flood the beleaguered territory with aid, ramping up pressure on Israel to reach a cease-fire and widening a rift between the staunch allies.

Biden has been an outspoken supporter of Israel’s war against Hamas. But in recent weeks his patience has appeared to wane and his administration has taken a more stern line with Israel, rattling the countries’ decades-old alliance and deepening Israel’s international isolation over the war.

The most serious disagreement has been over Israel’s plans for an offensive in Rafah. The rift was worsened by an Israeli airstrike last week on an aid convoy that killed seven workers with the World Central Kitchen charity, most of them foreigners. Israel said the deaths were unintentional but Biden was outraged.

Biden’s latest comments in an interview that aired late Tuesday and was recorded two days after the WCK strike, highlight the differences between Israel and the U.S. over humanitarian aid to people in Gaza, where the war has led to warnings of imminent famine for more than a million people.

“What he’s doing is a mistake. I don’t agree with his approach,” Biden told Spanish-language broadcaster Univision when asked if Netanyahu was prioritizing his political survival over Israel’s interest.

 

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