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Israeli assassination in Gaza risks wider conflict

If the Palestinian group Hamas makes good on promises of revenge for the killing today of its top military chief, the situation could deteriorate. 

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Egypt

Jaabri was responsible for the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, whose five-year captivity became something of a national cause until Netanyahu’s government secured his release last year. As such, Netanyahu may well hold up Jaabri’s assassination as proof of his determination and capability to keep Israel safe at a time of heightened insecurity.

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But the attack also threatens to undermine Israel’s already tenuous relationship with Egypt under newly elected President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Mr. Morsi tonight denounced Israel’s “wanton aggression against Gaza,” recalled the Egyptian ambassador from Israel, and warned that Egyptians would not accept such an assault. Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood have been under considerable pressure from the Egyptian public to revisit the country’s historic peace deal with Israel, potentially unraveling an alliance key to Israel’s security as well as US interests in the region.

Mahmoud Hussein, a member of the Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau, said in an interview prior to Jaabri’s assassination that Egypt is the only party to the peace treaty that has upheld its obligations.

The US didn’t keep its promise of creating a Palestinian state, while the Israelis didn’t respect Palestinian rights, he told The Christian Science Monitor last week. He specifically criticized Israeli attacks against Palestinians.

“There is no treaty because there’s no respect for the treaty,” he said, sitting behind his polished desk at the Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo. “When the Egyptian people see that Egypt is the only party that respects the treaty, they will want to revisit it.”

‘Every Israeli is our target’

Jaabari and his aide, Abu Hamed Hams, were killed instantly when their car was struck by a rocket fired from an Israeli drone in Gaza City. The attack sparked protests in Gaza as thousands of Qassam operatives fired guns into the air, calling for revenge.

"Every Israeli is our target now," al-Qassam said in a press statement. "Israel will pay a heavy price for this crime."

Abu Saada, the professor, says that al-Qassam possesses thousands of Russian-made Grad rockets that can reach Tel Aviv ­– Israel’s largest city and home to its main airport.

"If they use these rockets, Israel will suffer because it will not be able to stop every rocket fired from Gaza. The situation may snowball; this depends on how Hamas is going to respond."

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