Israeli warplanes fired missiles, killing a senior commander of the Hamas military wing and wounding 11 people in five targets hit across Gaza overnight, the group and the military said on Saturday.
The Israeli military said the strikes were in response to a powerful rocket fired from Gaza that hit the Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon on Friday, causing damage but no injuries.
Gaza's Islamist militant Hamas rulers said their slain member was Issa Batran (42), a commander of the groups' military wing in central Gaza and a senior rocket maker.
Batran had survived several previous Israeli attempts to kill him, but his wife and five of his children were killed during Israel's three-week war in Gaza that ended in January 2009.
Later on Saturday, some 3,000 Hamas loyalists marched in Batran's funeral procession, firing guns, waving the group's green banner and Palestinian flags.
Batran was buried in a grave next to his wife and children.
The cross-border violence came after weeks of relative calm and raised concerns of further escalation.
A Hamas spokesman said the militant group would avenge Batran's killing.
“Hamas will not be quiet over the blood of its martyrs,” said Hamad al-Rakab. “Israel is opening all the gates of fire. This blood will cascade into rage and fire,” Al-Rakab said.
Israel's military says more than 400 rockets and mortars have been fired from Gaza since Israel ended its punishing assault in the Hamas-run coastal area 19 months ago. — AP