Top Hamas Leader Killed In Israeli Airstrike In Gaza Strip

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Palestinian leader of Qassam Brigades in the Gaza Strip, Ahmed Jabari, is seen on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing on Oct. 18, 2011 before the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails under a landmark swap deal to free abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit after five years of Hamas captivity. (credit: MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images)

Palestinian leader of Qassam Brigades in the Gaza Strip, Ahmed Jabari, is seen on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing on Oct. 18, 2011 before the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails under a landmark swap deal to free abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit after five years of Hamas captivity. (credit: MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images)

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JERUSALEM (CBSDC/AP) — A top Hamas leader was killed by an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip.

The Associated Press reports that Ahmed Jabari, the terror group’s military chief, was killed when the car he was traveling in exploded.

Israeli officials accused Jabari of being behind several attacks, including the kidnapping of soldier Gilad Schalit in 2006. Schalit gained his freedom in October 2011 after Israel exchanged over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners to Hamas for him.

Israel’s Shin Bet domestic intelligence service tells Haaertz that Jabari was targeted because of his “decade-long terrorist activity.”

A passenger in the car with Jabari was also killed in the airstrike.

Jabari is the most senior Hamas official to be killed since Israel invaded Gaza four years ago, according to the AP.

Violence escalated this week between Hamas and Israel after rockets were being fired into southern Israeli cities from Gaza. Israeli airstrikes also hit Gaza City, Khan Younis and Rafah.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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