Israel claimed responsibility of the killing of Muhammad Jamal al-Namnam, resident of Shati-suburb of Gaza. According to an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announcement Namnan, age 25 was a senior leader
of the “Army of Islam”, (AOI) an extremist militant organization operating in Gaza and East Sinai. He was killed when his car exploded in front of the police headquarters in Gaza, around noon. The explosion wounded three more persons. By evening Israel confirmed Namnam was ‘targeted’ in a coordinated operation that involved the IDF and Israel’s Internal Security Agency (ISA). According to Hamas sources the explosion was caused by a missile strike.
According to a source in Gaza quoted by Ynet, Namnam was killed while travelling in a new Hyundai vehicle which recently arrived in the Gaza Strip from Israel, as part of the easing of the blockade. Israel has allowed dozens of such vehicles to enter Gaza. Hamas interior ministry had called
on Palestinian buying the new cars, but to have them checked thoroughly, “for fear that Israel could have planted listening devices or even booby-trapped them.”
On 17 November Israel acted again, targeting a senior AOI operative – 30 year old Aslam Yasin, a resident of Jabelia Palestinian refugee camp located near the city of Gaza. Yasin was a close assistant of Mumtaz Durmush, the current leader of AOI.
This Salifist terror organization was identified with the cause of “Global Jihad” and believed to be affiliated with Al Qaeda. Al Namnan was personally involved in directing several terror attacks against Israeli targets in recent years. More recently, he was involved with conspiring and directing a terror attack against American and Israeli targets throughout the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula and along the Egyptian-Israeli border, in cooperation with Hamas elements in the Gaza Strip. Otherwise, his organization, “Army of Islam” is known to be hostile to Hamas, as its members have already clashed with Hamas forces in the past. The Army of Islam has been involved in several high-profile abductions, including involvement in the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit and the kidnapping of British reporter Alan Johnston in 2007. Schalit is still being held, while Johnston was released after nearly four months in captivity.
In past years Israel has diligently ‘targeted’ Palestinian militants as part of its anti-terror campaign. Air attacks were often used, as well as direct assaults by special operations squads. Targeting terror leaders, particularly in Gaza, managed to suppress terrorist activity but has, so far not achieved ‘decapitation’ of these organizations, as new leaders rapidly took charge and continued to fight, alas less effectively.
In the Palestinian West Bank, targeting terror activists has successfully diminished these organizations to a level where most of the activists who managed to remain alive agreed to cease fire and abandon terror only to be removed from the ISA’s ‘most wanted’ list.
Israel ceased such targeting operations in the West Bank and Gaza in recent years, and maintained this policy despite the continuous armed conflict with Hamas in Gaza. The recent act is considered a warning to Hamas and other Palestinian activists in Gaza, meaning that Israel can be setting new rules in pursuing extremist activists in Gaza and beyond.