Eleven Palestinians suspected and reportedly convicted of working as collaborators for Israel were executed at the Gaza City police headquarters on Friday morning, according to a Hamas official, a day after Israeli air strikes killed three high-level Hamas commanders in Rafah.
Israeli authorities said the assassination of the three commanders, who died Thursday morning, was an intelligence coup. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri condemned the killing of three of groups senior commanders, Mohamed Abo Shamaleh, Raed al-Attar and Mohamed Barhoum, threatening that Israel would pay for the “crime.”
Thirty-five other Palestinians were killed on Thursday via Israeli bombing. At least four more Palestinians were killed in Gaza on Friday as the 'Operation Protective Edge’ entered its 46th day.
The Israeli military reported more than 20 airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, while two rockets were fired at Israel from the besieged enclave. According to Haaretz, Palestinian factions launched five rockets and mortars after dawn.
By Friday midday, one Israeli was moderately wounded by shrapnel in the southern Israeli town of Be’er Sheva.
Targeting Hamas chiefs
According to the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal intelligence service, Raed al-Attar and Mohammed Abu Shamaleh were considered the two top commanders in the southern Gaza Strip. Abo Shamaleh organized incursions into southern Israel, while al-Attar was responsible for smuggling weapons and recruiting military personnel in the Rafah area.
All three were killed in Rafah on Thursday. Thousands of Gaza residents participated in their funeral. Seven members of the Kallab and Younis families, killed in Israeli airstrikes, were also mourned at the march.
On Wednesday, the Israeli forces struck the home of Mohammed Deif, leader of the Qassam Brigades—Hamas’ military wing. Deif managed to escape the attack that killed his wife and young child.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that the offensive in Gaza may be further extended. The Israeli army is currently preparing to rotate in 10,000 fresh new troops.
European ceasefire initiative to the Security Council
Britain, France and Germany brought a new bid to the UN Security Council on Thursday, aiming to halt the six-week long conflict. The document calls for an immediate ceasefire, a lifting of Israel’s blockade on the Gaza Strip, and a return of the Palestinian Authority to the enclave, which is now controlled by Hamas.
In addition, the countries proposed a monitoring mechanism for ceasefire violations and the flow of goods to the Gaza Strip. The initiative comes three days after the Egyptian-brokered truce negotiations failed in Cairo.
The United States decided to back the European proposal. An unnamed American diplomat said that both Palestinians and Israelis have privately asked for action from the Security Council, as this would help them “sell it [ending the conflict] internally.”
UN Human Rights chief Navi Pillay criticized the UN Security Council on Thursday for its ineffectiveness in the world’s conflicts, ranging from Mali to Gaza. According to her, “greater responsiveness would have saved hundreds of lives.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Qatar on Thursday. Azzam al-Ahmad, head of the Palestinians delegation in Cairo, senior negotiator Saeb Erekat, and Palestinian intelligence chief Majid Faraj, were also present at the meeting.
More than 2,087 Palestinians have been killed and 10,500 injured during the conflict.