Khaled Mansour, a Palestinian militant commander, is killed in Israeli attack

Khaled Mansour, the Islamic Jihad militant commander who was killed Saturday night in an Israeli rocket attack in southern Gaza, was responsible for rocket and mortar attacks on Israel going back years, according to the Israeli military.

Mr Mansour, who led the militant group’s operations in the southern region of Gaza, had a rank equivalent to that of a general, the Israeli army said. It added that he had claimed responsibility for an attack that killed two Israeli soldiers in 2010 and that he was involved in another attack that injured the Israeli commander of the Southern Gaza Brigade in 2004.

One of the soldiers who died 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 enemy actions, has become a national symbol of sacrifice.

According to Islamic Jihad, Mr Mansour’s body was recovered from the rubble of a collapsed building at a refugee camp in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, along with the bodies of his deputy and another militant and five civilians, including a child.

The militant group mourned their deaths in a statement and promised to retaliate with more rocket attacks. Surviving Islamic Jihad leaders attended funerals for the dead on Sunday.

Israeli military officials said they regret the civilian deaths in Gaza and promised they would be investigated. But they have blamed the militants for operating out of residential areas and using Gazans as “human shields.”

The military also claimed that Mr Mansour had plotted an attack on Israel using anti-tank and missiles.

Mansour’s assassination followed the assassination of Islamic Jihad commander for the northern region of Gaza, Taysir al-Jabari, during Israeli attacks on Friday that sparked the latest flare-up of fighting. Israel said the attacks thwarted the group’s plans for an anti-tank missile strike along the border to avenge the arrest of a senior Islamic Jihad commander in the West Bank.

Fady Hanona contributed from Gaza City.

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