Israel kills al Qaeda-linked chief in Gaza strike

GAZA/JERUSALEM Fri Dec 30, 2011 4:42pm EST

1 of 2. Palestinians look at the body of militant Momen Abu Daf during his funeral at a mosque in Gaza City December 30, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Mohammed Salem

Related Topics

GAZA/JERUSALEM (Reuters)- Israel killed the leader of an al Qaeda-inspired faction in the Gaza Strip on Friday, accusing him of involvement in firing rockets and a planned attack on the Jewish state from the neighboring Egyptian Sinai.

The deadly air strike was Israel's second against a Salafi Islamist militant this week. Militants identified him as Momen Abu Daf, chief of the Army of Islam, among a loose network of Palestinian groups which profess allegiance to al Qaeda and have been reinforced by volunteers who slip in from the Sinai.

Gaza's Islamist Hamas rulers, who have sometimes reined in more radical groups, are seeking an accommodation with secular Palestinian rivals and with an Egypt struggling for order after the fall of U.S.-allied President Hosni Mubarak in February.

Abu Daf died when a missile hit Gaza City's Zeitoun district, the Hamas administration's Health Ministry said. Five other Palestinians were wounded and one of them needed hospital treatment.

The Israeli military said its aircraft "targeted a terrorist squad that was identified moments before firing rockets at Israel from the northern Gaza Strip."

Abu Daf, a military statement said, had "orchestrated and executed numerous and varied terror attacks" and "was actively involved in the preparations of the attempted terror attack on the Israel-Egypt border that was thwarted this week."

EYES ON EGYPT

That appeared to refer to Israel's killing on Tuesday of another Salafi fighter, Abdallah Telbani, who the military said had been plotting strikes in which gunmen would circumvent the fortified Gaza border by attacking south Israel from the Sinai.

Israel has been on high alert for such raids since losing eight of its citizens to armed infiltrators on Egypt's porous frontier in August. Israeli troops repelling those gunmen killed five Egyptian border guards, fraying strategic ties with Cairo.

"We shoot when we're being shot at," one Israeli security official said after Friday's air strike in Gaza. "It's clear that Hamas does not have an interest in fanning the flames at this time, but it's not dousing them either."

Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, responded: "Our people have the right to defend themselves, and the problem is the (Israeli) occupation which targets the Palestinian resistance."

Though Hamas echoes Salafi calls for Israel's ultimate destruction, its ambitions are framed within Palestinian nationalism, not al Qaeda-style global jihad, and include a possible ceasefire with the militarily superior Jewish state which, with Egyptian help, has tried to isolate Gaza.

Hamas took over the coastal strip in a 2007 civil war against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction, which holds sway in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal and Abbas held rapprochement talks in Cairo last week against a backdrop of political upheaval across the Arab world, including Syria, where Meshaal retains a headquarters that diplomats say Hamas has scaled back.

One official said Meshaal told Abbas he was "in favor of peaceful resistance and a truce in Gaza and the West Bank at this stage," though Hamas would not meet Israel's core demand for recognition.

Two short-range rockets were launched from Gaza into Israel on Thursday and five on Wednesday, the Israeli military said. There were no casualties. The Popular Resistance Committees, an armed Palestinian faction, claimed responsibility.

(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Alistair Lyon)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (2)
In the 1980′s, US Army Special Forces troops trained islamic insurgents, recruited by Osama bin Laden, to fight the Russians in Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda operates like a Special Forces group and recruits, organizes, trains, and directs islamic insurgents in unconventional warfare. In most current situations, the al-Qaeda soldiers work in small A detachments to train and advise existing units to improve their tactics and techniques, their development and use of weapons and munitions, their communications and coordination, their psychological operations among their local populace, and their logistics and finance. We taught them to be an army that doesn’t need a state. We also taught them chain of command, something that Israeli leaders don’t seem to understand. The “Army of Islam” will promote a colonel to be their new general, promote a major to colonel, captain to major, lieutenant to captain, sergeant to lieutenant, corporal to sergeant, private to corporal, and recruit a new private. The West has killed enough senior leaders to fill ten thousand pentagons, but they have lost the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan because killing one person at a time doesn’t help much against 1.5 billion people. Israel is committing suicide with the costs of $30 million sniper rifles that fire $300,000 bullets. Israel is also committing suicide over Iran. Israel knows that Iran needs nuclear power because it will run out of oil by 2050, has too few rivers for hydroelectric and too many sandstorms for solar, and must start building now. Iran can shut the Straits and destroy all oil and gas infrastructure in the southern Gulf countries, plunging the EU and US into a 10 year depression over the price of oil. Only China can afford the likely price, and China has completed new pipelines to Siberia and Turkmenistan with more to Siberia and the other six “stans” underway. The US and its allies will eventually “win” the war but the 10 year depression will cut aid to Israel while China rebuilds and rearms the Arabs with new weapons and better technology. Israel is committing suicide over Iran’s words.

Dec 30, 2011 11:57am EST  --  Report as abuse
CPFftw wrote:
Alan the only problem I see with your statement is, the isrealis are very well equipped as are the Arabs with US technology, China on the otherhand has its military tech built on the cheap and it is well behind. They are still copying russian hand me downs.

Dec 30, 2011 2:27pm EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

Full focus