Israeli Airstrikes Targeted Hamas Military Leader In Cease-Fire Collapse, Hamas Leader Claimed

hamas tunnels Palestinian fighters from the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, are seen inside an underground tunnel in Gaza August 18, 2014.  REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Israeli air strikes on Gaza targeted Mohammed Deif, the leader of Hamas’ military wing, on Tuesday, according to a statement from senior Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk. Deif’s status is still unknown but Marzouk said his wife and daughter have been killed.

An attack on a Gaza city home on Tuesday left an unidentified woman and 2-year-old girl dead, along with a third, unidentified victim. The home was hit by at least five missiles, Palestinian media said. There is some speculation this was Deif’s family, as the same home was targeted mulitple times during Israel’s 2012 offensive in the strip.

Israel Defense Forces have yet to confirm the attack but Gaza officials claim they hit around 30 targets on Tuesday. At least 50 rockets have been fired into Israel, according to the IDF.

Deif has been involved with Hamas for more than 20 years, according to the Agence-France Press, and was appointed head of the group’s military wing, Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, in 2002. He has survived multiple Israeli assassination attempts, including one that severely wounded him after he took control of the al-Qassam brigades.  

Hamas claimed Israel violated a 24-hour cease-fire on Tuesday "to assassinate Mohammed Deif,” and said the Israeli delegation had left the Cairo negotiations an hour before the cease-fire was set to expire as proof they had planned this in advance.

Israel, in turn, blamed Hamas rocket-fire for halting the negotiations.

"The Cairo process was built on a total and complete cessation of all hostilities and so when rockets were fired from Gaza, not only was it a clear violation of the cease-fire but it also destroyed the premise upon which the talks were based," Mark Reeve, a spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday.

Since Israel began its “Operation Protective Edge” on July 8, officials said at least 2,016 Palestinians and 66 Israelis have been killed.

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