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Hamas says 3 senior leaders killed in Gaza strike

Israeli Airstrikes Kill 3 Top Hamas Commanders

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- An Israeli airstrike in Gaza killed three senior leaders of the Hamas military wing on Thursday, the militant group said, in what is likely to be a major blow to the organization's morale and a significant scoop for Israeli intelligence.

The strike near Rafah, a town in the southern part of the coastal territory, was one of 20 the Israeli military said it carried out after midnight on Wednesday.

In a text message sent to media, Hamas said three of its senior military leaders - Mohammed Abu Shamaleh, Mohammed Barhoum and Raed al-Attar - were killed, along with three other people.

Gaza police and medical officials said scores more people remained under the rubble of a four-story structure destroyed in the airstrike.

The three Hamas leaders are considered to be at the senior levels of its military leadership and were involved in a number of high profile attacks on Israeli targets.

The Israeli security agency Shin Bet confirmed the deaths of Shamaleh and al-Attar in an email, but did not mention Barhoum.

The strikes followed the breakdown of Egyptian-mediated talks in Cairo aimed at producing a long-term truce and a future roadmap for Gaza after more than a month of fighting between Israel and Hamas-led Islamic militants.

The Gaza war has so far killed more than 2,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians. Israel has lost 67 people, all but three of them soldiers.

Palestinian health official Ashraf Al-Kidra put the number of those missing at the site of eh Rafah airstrike in the "dozens."

Elsewhere, another Israeli airstrike killed a 27-year-old man in central Gaza identified as Jomma Anwar Mayar, police said. Israel also hit at smuggling tunnels along the Gaza border with Egypt and at agricultural lands west of Rafah in the latest airstrikes.

Israel says the airstrikes are in response to a resumption of Hamas rocket fire that on Tuesday scuttled a six-day cease-fire. The military says that only one rocket launch was registered since midnight, compared to more than 210 over the previous 30 hours.

On Wednesday, in the most spectacular Israeli strike since the cease-fire was breached, Hamas' shadowy military chief, Mohammed Deifm, was the object of an apparent assassination attempt that killed his wife and infant son.

After remaining quiet for most of the day Wednesday, Hamas officials announced that Deif was not in the targeted home at the time and was still alive. Deif has survived multiple assassination attempts, lives in hiding and is believed to be paralyzed from previous attempts on his life.

In a nationally televised address Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu showed little willingness to return to the negotiating table after six weeks of war with Hamas.

"We are determined to continue the campaign with all means and as is needed," he said, his defense minister by his side. "We will not stop until we guarantee full security and quiet for the residents of the south and all citizens of Israel."

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry expressed "deep regret" over the breaking of the cease-fire. It said in a statement Wednesday that it "continues bilateral contacts" with both sides aimed at restoring calm and securing a lasting truce that "serves the interest of the Palestinian people, especially in relation to the opening of the crossings and reconstruction."

An Egyptian compromise proposal calls for easing the Gaza blockade but not lifting it altogether or opening the territory's air and seaports, as Hamas has demanded.

While the plan does not require Hamas to give up its weapons, it would give Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose forces were ousted by Hamas, a foothold back in Gaza running border crossings and overseeing internationally backed reconstruction.

The Gaza blockade has greatly limited the movement of Palestinians in and out of the territory of 1.8 million people, restricted the flow of goods into Gaza and blocked virtually all exports.

Israel says the blockade is needed to prevent Hamas and other militant groups from getting weapons. Critics say the measures amount to collective punishment.

Look Back on the Gaza-Israel Events:

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usrt66 August 21 2014 at 4:08 AM

This is good news. Need more of it.

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4 replies
glencove August 21 2014 at 4:00 AM

Hamas is equal to or worse than ISIS.Stop showing compassion for this evil group of total liars.

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10 replies
Debra August 21 2014 at 3:39 AM

YEAH!!!!!! Go Israel....kill all Hamas terrorists. Thank you Israel for all you contribute to our world. God Bless You All and keep you safe. I pray you will have safety around you by 100 miles in every direction!

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14 replies
Doug August 21 2014 at 5:27 AM

Go Israel! The good guys!

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6 replies
mdcaver August 21 2014 at 4:01 AM

Hopefully Israel keeps blasting the crap out of these Muslim scumbags. Maybe if they kill enough of them, Allah will run out of virgins and the fighting will stop when they realize they aren't getting their reward for being a retarded martyr.

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9 replies
esqlevine August 21 2014 at 4:10 AM

The world owes Israel a debt of gratitude for showing all how to deal with terrorists. Then take all the lessons learned and apply it to every Islamofascist on the planet.

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9 replies
jewel August 21 2014 at 3:59 AM

go after them ---ISREAL-- go after them...

Flag Reply +96 rate up
4 replies
madlyfem August 21 2014 at 3:53 AM

All Hamas wants to do is export their rockets. If Hamas wants forever war, that is what they will get, until the people of Gaza figure out that they are the bringers of death, and get rid of them.

Flag Reply +77 rate up
2 replies
macsportsvt madlyfem August 21 2014 at 1:03 PM

Absurd comments about Jewish management of the UK and US press. More Palestinian and Arab propaganda. We Americans are not as stupid or quite as easily influenced as these two commenters would like to have us believe.

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1 reply
lofty1463 macsportsvt August 21 2014 at 9:45 PM

Judith, you have covered it about as astutely as can be. Very well said!

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ranger197172 madlyfem August 22 2014 at 3:12 AM

The palestinians know what hamas is and support them,. so they are just as guilty.

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glencove August 21 2014 at 4:08 AM

Why doesn't the US ask the ISIS leaders to compromise,to be reasonable as these vermin behead and murder people?Oh,but the Hamas leaders are according to the world a force which needs to be understood and given opportunities to meet their demands.Of coursse, the minute they get an open border they will proceed to import more cement to build more tunnels,open a port so they can bring in weapons etc. Obama is playing both sides.

Flag Reply +67 rate up
14 replies
joeljoey5160 August 21 2014 at 4:01 AM

The three dead cock roaches can look for their 72 virgins to rape for eternity.

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16 replies
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