|Secretary General of the Popular Resistance Committees|
August, 2011 – 9 March, 2012
|Preceded by||Kamal al-Nirab|
|Died||9 March, 2012 (aged 49)
Tel al-Hawa, Gaza
|Political party||Popular Resistance Committees|
|Unit||Al-Nasser Salah al-Deen Brigades|
Zuhair al-Qaisi (Arabic: زهير القيسي; l963 – 9 March 2012), also known by his nom de guerre Abu Ibrahim, was secretary general of the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza. He was killed by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
al-Qaisi was a member of the Popular Resistance Committees since their establishment in 2000. The Popular Resistance Committees were one of three organizations responsible for the capture of Gilad Shalit. Interviewed regarding Shalit's capture and imprisonment, al-Qaisi is said to have stated that "Israel has tried to pressure us by killing a large number of activists following the abduction, but the resistance and the Palestinians have held their ground".
According to the IDF, though the claim is denied by the PRC, al-Qaisi was one of the masterminds of the 2011 southern Israel cross-border attacks in August 2011, in which eight Israelis were killed. Following this attack, the IDF killed the secretary general of the Popular Resistance Committees, Kamal al-Nirab, and al-Qaisi was appointed his successor. On January 14, 2012 an explosion at al-Qaisi's home, in Rafah killed one member of his family, Khalid al-Qaisi, and wounded five others. Zuhir al-Qaisi himself was not at home at the time.
On 9 March 2012, al-Qaisi was killed in a missile strike by IDF aircraft, while driving his Opel car in the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood west of Gaza. His son-in-law, Mohammed Ahmed al-Hanani, a resident of Beit Furik near Nablus, was also killed in the attack, and a third man was seriously injured. The killing of Hanini was, according to the Egyptian ambassador to Ramallah Yasser Osman and a Hamas spokesman, in violation of the terms of agreement in the Shalit prisoner swap. The government and the Israeli security establishment justified the targeted assassination by explaining at the time that al-Qaisi had been planning a terrorist attack against Israel that was in the final stages of preparation. Sources among the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza say that they had been tipped off a month earlier that Israel was planning to kill him.
Zvi Bar'el, writing for Haaretz, argued that the escalation was seen as good for Israel and that the events in Gaza were part of a plan to 'sell' an Israeli attack on Iran. Al-Hayat, surveying several possible reasons for the attack, argued that 'marketing the Iron Dome' project and testing Hamas's military capabilities played some role in Israeli defence calculations for the killing. Neve Gordon, surveying the opinions of several analysts in the Israeli press, cites, among others, Maariv's Ofer Shelah for the view that statements by the Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak gave the impression that Qaisi's assassination was not directly preemptive, since Barak explicitly said that what al-Qaisi was planning, and where the attack was to be launched, and whether an imminent attack had been foiled, was not clear, and that the attack was more about deterrence. Gordon also reports that several commentators argued that the assassination had been planned well in advance, the ambush itself being prepared a week beforehand, and that its execution had been delayed until Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu returned from his diplomatic visit to Washington, Purim festivities had passed, and the weather had cleared up.
As a response to the targeted assassination, a barrage of rockets was launched from Gaza, resulting in the March 2012 Gaza–Israel clashes. Yossi Klein, writing in Haaretz, argued that people in Tel Aviv were sceptical of the stories given out by government spokesmen and concluded that:-
The death of Zahid al-Kaisi met the criteria of cost-benefit analysis well. A few days of fear in Sderot are a small investment that will bring a big profit in terms of punishment and deterrence.
- Yoav Zeitun, Elior Levi Secretary General of the Popular Resistance Committees was assassinated in Gaza, at Ynet, 9 March 2012
- Hanan Greenberg, Ilana Curiel, Yoav Zeitun, 12 people killed in Gaza More than 90 rockets into Israel, (Heb.) Ynet, 10 March 2012
- Fresh barrage of Gaza rockets fired into southern Israel, Xinhua, 10 March 2012.
- Navon, Emmanuel. "'Gaza-based PRC denies responsibility for Eilat attack'". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 21 August 2011.
- Avi Issacharoff, Gili Cohen and Yanir Yagna, IDF strike in Gaza kills leader of Popular Resistance Committees, Haaretz, 9 March 2012.
- Blast kills PRC operative in south Gaza,, Ma'an News Agency. 14 January 2012
- Tzippe Barrow, Rockets Follow Assassination of Gaza Terror Chief, CBN, 11 March 2012.
- Hanan Greenberg, Ilana Curiel, Yoav Zeitun, More than 90 rockets into Israel, 12 people killed in Gaza, Ynet, 10 March 2012.
- Elior Levy, Gaza strike: Terrorists vow revenge, Ynet, 9 March 2012.
- Elior Levy, Gaza terror group: Egypt warned us before al-Qaisi killing, Ynet, 11 March 2012.
- Zvi Bar'el, Escalation is good for Israel, Haaretz, 11 March 2012.
- Aluf Benn, Netanyahu is preparing Israeli public opinion for a war on Iran,, Haaretz, 15 March 2012.
- Amal Shehadeh, Marketing the Iron Dome: Why Israel Attacked Gaza Archived March 22, 2012, at the Wayback Machine., at Al-Hayat, 13 March 2012
- Ramzy Baroud, Why Israel attacked Gaza: Bibi stirring trouble, at Arab News. March 15, 2012
- Neve Gordon, Neve Gordon, 'Preparing Israel for war,' AlJazeera, 21 March 2012.
- Jamie Levin, Israel's economy will pay heavy price for Iron Dome, Haaretz, 24 March 2012.
- Yossi Klein, When the missiles rain on Tel Aviv, Haaretz, 15 March 2012.