The head of the armed wing of Hamas has been killed in an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip. Israel has confirmed that Ahmed Jabari had been targeted.
Israel's domestic intelligence agency, Shin Bet, confirmed that the operation had taken place.
"During a joint operation of the General Security Service (Shin Bet) and the IDF (army) today, Ahmed Jabari, the senior commander of the military wing of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, was targeted," a Shin Bet statement said, adding that Jabari had been targeted for his "decades-long terrorist activity."
A spokeswoman for the military, Avital Liebovitch, said that the chief of staff (Lieutenant General Genny Gantz) had authorized further targeting of terror organizations in the Gaza Strip, naming Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
"This is the beginning," she said.
Hamas has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007, and tensions with Israel have escalated in recent days because of a series of rocket attacks launched on Israel from Gaza.
The attack on Jabari sparked an immediate response from Palestinians in Gaza City, with chants for revenge coming from inside Shifa hospital, where a doctor had earlier confirmed Jabari's death.
A spokesman from Hamas said the attack on Jabari had "opened the gates of hell."
Other Israeli strikes on Gaza were also reported on Wednesday, albeit with few concrete details at first.
mz/msh (Reuters, AFP, dpa)