In Gaza standoff, Israelis kill chief of Hamas forces

November 25, 1993|By Cox News Service

GAZA, Israeli-Occupied Gaza Strip -- In an evening shootout on a busy Gaza street yesterday, Israeli forces killed the principal fighter in Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, which opposes the Israel-PLO peace agreement.

Imad Aqal was the 23-year-old leader of Hamas' military wing, Izzedine al-Qassam, and "the No. 1 wanted on the terrorism wanted list," an army spokeswoman said.

Mr. Aqal planned and executed attacks since 1991 in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip that caused the deaths of 12 Israelis -- 11 of them soldiers -- and four Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel, according to Israeli authorities.

At a security roadblock in the city of Gaza, Mr. Aqal reportedly jumped from his car and fired at Israeli troops. He was cut down by a burst of machine-gun fire, according to Israeli state radio. No Israeli soldiers were hurt, military sources said.

Two other Palestinians were also shot and killed by Israeli troops in Gaza Tuesday night and yesterday when they ran roadblocks, Israeli radio reported. A Palestinian also reportedly died at the hands of fellow Palestinians in a Gaza refugee camp.

Israeli officials hailed the killing of Mr. Aqal, who had eluded capture since he was placed on the wanted list in December 1991. The Israeli army chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Ehud Barak, said the killing was an "important achievement in the war against terror."

Hamas has vowed to seek the destruction of Israel and, like other Palestinian rejectionist groups, has increased its attacks in recent weeks against Israeli soldiers and civilians in the territories. The violence has provoked reprisals by angry Israeli settlers, who are also opposed to the Israel-PLO peace agreement.

Mr. Aqal was quoted in a book published this week by Hamas as saying he "hoped to go to paradise by being killed by Israeli soldiers."

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