Jamal Abu Samhadana
Jamal Abu Samhadana (Arabic: جمال أبو سمهدانة, February 8, 1963 – June 8, 2006), from Rafah in the Gaza Strip, was the founder of the Popular Resistance Committees (which have been held responsible for firing missiles into Israel), a former Fatah and Tanzim member, and number two on Israel's list of wanted terrorists. On 20 April 2006 he was appointed by Said Seyam, Interior Minister of the Palestinian National Authority's new Hamas-led government, as director general of the police forces in the Interior Ministry.
In April 2006, Samhadana was quoted as saying that "We have only one enemy. They are Jews. We have no other enemy. I will continue to carry the rifle and pull the trigger whenever required to defend my people."
The appointment "sparked new criticism from the U.S. and Israel and intensified the struggle for control of some 70,000 Palestinian security forces" between Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas subsequently issued a decree preventing the formation of the force that Abu Samhadana was to have headed. However, Hamas defied the President's veto and proceeded with the nomination.
Abu Samhadana survived an Israeli missile strike in the Gaza Strip in December 2004.
On June 8, 2006, Samhadana was killed in a targeted killing, along with at least three other PRC members, by four missiles fired by Israeli Apache helicopters, guided by Israeli reconnaissance drones, at a PRC camp in Rafah.
Although Israel acknowledged that Hamas was largely sticking to a ceasefire, on June 8, 2006, Samhadana was killed in a resumption of targeted killings, along with at least three other PRC members, by four missiles fired by Israeli Apache helicopters, guided by Israeli reconnaissance drones, at a PRC camp in Rafah. Palestinian human rights sources called the killings extra-judicial executions and assassinations. They reported that Israeli media sources stated that Defense Minister Amir Peretz had personally approved the operation. Al Mezan Center for Human Rights condemned the assassinations, particularly the fact that they were adopted as official Israeli policy. It said that assassinations were war crimes according to international humanitarian law, mainly the Fourth Geneva Convention, which bans all types of extrajudicial capital punishment.
Repercussions of the assassination
At his funeral Samhadana’s supporters called for revenge. Hours after his assassination rockets were fired at Sderot in Israel. The IDF retaliated by bombarding the launch sites on a Gaza beach. During the bombardment period, the civilian Ghalia family was all but wiped out in an explosion. Analysts trace the Samhadana assassination to the rocket fire (on Sderot), through a series of IDF shellings, rocket attacks and commando raids on Gaza that killed over three dozen people, mostly civilians, to the capture of Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit on June 25. Two days after Shalit's capture, the IDF launched Operation Summer Rains in which over 400 Palestinians (most of them militants) died and 650 were wounded.
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- "Serious Escalation in Israeli Attacks". Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. 2006.
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- On Patrol with the Killer Israel Dreads Hala Jaber, Sunday Times, 29 December 2002.