Israel kills Hamas leader in missile attack

Wednesday, April 9, 2003

GAZA CITY Israel has killed a leading Hamas insurgent in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli and Palestinian sources said Israeli attack helicopters and fixed-wing fired missiles that destroyed the vehicle of Said Arabid on Tuesday evening in Gaza City. Palestinian sources said Israeli aircraft fired two rounds of missiles toward Arabid's car.

Arabi, 33, was a leading Hamas insurgent and responsible for a series of suicide bombings and rocket attacks on Israeli civilian and military targets, Middle East Newsline reported.

Arabid commanded Hamas's Izzedin Kassem wing along with Mohammed Deif, the sources said. Hamas increased Arabid's authority in the wake of the death of Salah Shehada in an Israeli operation last year.

The sources said Arabid assumed some of the duties of Deif when the latter was seriously injured in an Israeli assassination attempt last year.

Ashraf Halabi, Arabid's deputy, and four others were also killed in the attack. The others included two youngsters, Palestinian sources said.

Palestinian sources said the Israeli operation consisted of AH-64A Apache helicopters and F-16 multi-role fighters. They said the aircraft carried out two strikes on Arabid's car.

Israeli military sources said Arabid began planning attacks on senior Israeli commanders in the Gaza Strip in 1993. They included the assassination of an Israeli colonel and the abduction and execution of an Israeli soldier. In 1994, Arabid was said to have helped organize the suicide bombing of an Israeli passenger bus in Tel Aviv in which 21 people were killed.

In 1999, Arabid was arrested by the PA. Israeli sources said Arabid was then recruited by the Preventive Security Apparatus, the leading Palestinian security agency in the Gaza Strip, then headed by Col. Mohammed Dahlan.

The duties included the development and production of Hamas missiles and rockets. Deif has since returned to head Hamas's military wing.

On Wednesday, Hamas gunners fired a Kassam-class short-range missile toward the Israeli city of Sderot. An Israeli woman was said to have been lightly injured.

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