Israeli missile strike kills Hamas leader

Special to World
Tuesday, March 11, 2003

GAZA CITY Israel has killed the leader of Hamas amid an intensification of the more than two-year-old Israeli-Palestinian war.

Four Israeli AH-64A attack helicopters fired missiles toward a car near Gaza City on Saturday, killing Ibrahim Maqadmeh, a founder of Hamas's military wing and a founder of the organization. Maqadmeh, 51, and three of his bodyguards were killed in the strike.

On Sunday, four Hamas missiles landed in the Israeli city of Sderot. The Hamas-origin missiles landed in an open area and nobody was hurt.

Israeli and Palestinian sources said Maqadmeh was responsible for Hamas suicide attacks, including the one that killed 16 Israelis on Wednesday.

They said Maqadmeh was also believed to have ordered the attacks on Israeli communities in the West Bank over the weekend.

Hamas spokespeople warned that their movement would target Israeli leaders. The Palestinian Authority said it condemned the killing.

On Saturday, Hamas claimed responsibility for an attack on the Israeli community of Kiryat Arba in which two people were killed. Two Hamas insurgents entered the community outside of Hebron, and began firing on worshippers. The insurgents, one of whom wore a belt full of explosives, were killed by Israeli security forces.

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