Gaza City : A top Salafist leader whose Islamist faction has recently fired rockets at Israel was among three people killed in Israeli air strikes on Gaza, sources on both sides said today. The first strike, which took place in northern Gaza late yesterday, killed Sheikh Hisham al-Saedini, 43, head of Salafist group Tawhid wal-Jihad, also known as the Mujahedeen Shura Council. Saedini, a Palestinian with Jordanian citizenship who was also known as Abu al-Waleed al-Maqdisi, was riding a motorcycle through the northern town of Jabaliya when the strike hit, medical and security sources said. Fellow activist Fayek Abu Jazar, 42, was also killed. A 12-year-old boy, who was
nearby, was wounded.
Israel mounted a second air strike in the southern city of Khan Yunis early today, killing one militant from the armed wing of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and critically injuring a second, medical and security sources said.
The dead man was named as Yasser Mohammad al-Atal, 23. The Israeli army confirmed both strikes, saying the early morning raid had targeted “a terrorist squad in the southern Gaza Strip in its final preparations to fire rockets at Israel.” The strike came shortly after a rocket hit an open field in the Eshkol region of southern Israel, the military said. Saedini was one of the top Salafist militants in Gaza who founded the Mujahedeen Shura Council, a Salafist coalition put together in late 2008 which has claimed a spate of rocket attacks on Israel in recent days.
There was no immediate reaction from the group to Saedini’s death, with his funeral expected to take place in Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza at noon (1000 GMT).