An Israeli air strike killed a high-ranking Hamas military commander in Central Gaza on Wednesday — seemingly a show of strength that could bolster the chances of re-election of the coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during Israel’s upcoming elections in January.
The air strike on a moving car in Gaza killed Ahmed al-Jaabri, deputy commanding general of Qassam Brigades, as well as his body guard.
The attack follows assassination threats from Israel, following air strikes and rocket barrages from Gaza over the past few days. On Monday, the Israeli daily Ha’aretz drew a link between targeted assassinations and the January elections.
It noted that Mr. Netanyahu wants to “look tough” ahead of the polls and predicted the likelihood ofassassinations in Gaza In yet another demonstration of mounting pressure on Palestinians, Israeli diplomats have warned foreign leaders that they would consider null and void, their peace accords with the Palestinians, if they seek observer status representation at the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA), the Associated Press reported.
Frustrated by the glacial progress of the peace process, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has announced plans to move the General Assembly for a seat as an observer state on November 29. According to a draft resolution that has been floated, the Palestinians are seeking international recognition of their State in the occupied territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
Israel had captured these territories during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
Demonstrating a clear intention to kill the Palestinian initiative, AP, citing an Israeli document in its possession, reported that the Israelis would view any unilateral move as a violation of the agreements reached by the two sides during the 1990s.
Consequently, it would “give Israel the right to reconsider and nullify” these accords in whole or in part. “Adoption of the resolution by the General Assembly will have grave consequences, and set in motion unilateral Israeli responses.”
Reinforcing the Israeli hardline position, Vice-Premier Moshe Yaalon told Army Radio on Wednesday that his country would “have to take steps to make it clear that there will be a heavy price” if the Palestinians went ahead with their demand for statehood. On Tuesday, U.N. Chief Ban Ki-moon joined Israel and the U.S. in exhorting the Palestinians to drop their move.
“None of us should act in any way that would place a return to talks at risk. There can be no substitute for meaningful negotiations”, he said during a speech at Yale University. Meanwhile, a U.S. envoy was set to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday in Geneva to dissuade the Palestinians from petitioning the UN.