Hamas gunmen seized control of the Gaza Strip’s border crossing with Egypt on Thursday in a ferocious gunbattle with Fatah-allied border guards after Israel blocked the Hamas prime minister from crossing with tens of millions of dollars in aid.
Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh was eventually allowed to cross without the estimated $35 million cash, but on the Gaza side of the border his convoy came under intense fire from Fatah gunmen, and one of his bodyguards was killed. Hamas said the gunmen had been aiming to kill the prime minister.
More than two dozen people were wounded in the fighting, deepening factional violence that has pushed the rivals closer to civil war. One of the injured was Haniyeh’s 27-year-old son, Abed.
Haniyeh cut short a trip abroad and was trying to return to Gaza in a bid to quell the infighting between Hamas and Fatah.
Court upholds targeted killings
The Israeli Supreme Court on Thursday upheld Israel’s policy of targeted killings of Palestinian militants, allowing the army to maintain a practice that has drawn widespread international condemnation.
The unanimous ruling from a three-judge panel fixed some legal limits, but it did not insist on prior court approval for the attacks, leaving the limits only theoretical and endorsing the killings in practice.
Israel has defended the practice as necessary to prevent terror attacks, including suicide bombings. But the original justification of stopping “ticking bombs” has been expanded over the years to targeting militant leaders, including field commanders and the founder of Hamas.
Palestinians and human rights groups, who have denounced the killings as assassinations and summary executions without trial, criticized the court for giving legal legitimacy to the practice.
During the past six years of conflict, Israel has routinely targeted militants in airstrikes.