Khaled Mansour, the Islamic Jihad commander killed in an Israeli rocket strike in southern Gaza on Saturday night, had been responsible for rocket and mortar attacks against Israel for years, according to the Israeli military.
Mr. Mansour, who led the militant group’s operations in the southern Gaza Strip, held a rank equivalent to that of general, the Israeli military said. He added that he had claimed responsibility for an attack that killed two Israeli soldiers in 2010 and was involved in another attack that wounded the Israeli commander of the Southern Gaza Brigade in 2004.
One of the soldiers killed in 2010, Major Eliraz Peretz, is almost a household name in Israel. His mother, Miriam Peretz, who lost two sons in uniform in two separate hostilities, has become a national symbol of sacrifice.
Mr. Mansour’s body was recovered from the rubble of a collapsed building in a refugee camp in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, along with the bodies of his deputy and another fighter and five civilians, including a child, according to the Islamic Jihad.
The militant group mourned their deaths in a statement and vowed to retaliate with more rocket attacks. Surviving Islamic Jihad leaders attended funerals Sunday for the dead.
Israeli military officials said they regretted the civilian deaths in Gaza and promised an investigation. However, they have accused the militants of operating out of residential neighborhoods and using Gazans as “human shields”.
The military also claimed that Mr. Mansour was planning an attack on Israel using anti-tank missiles and rockets.
Mr Mansour’s killing followed the killing of Islamic Jihad’s commander for the northern Gaza Strip, Taysir al-Jabari, in Israeli strikes on Friday that sparked the latest flare-up in fighting. Israel said the strikes had foiled the group’s plans for an anti-tank missile strike along the border to avenge the capture of a senior Islamic Jihad commander in the West Bank.
Fady Hanona contributed reporting from Gaza City.