Hamas Military Chief Killed as Pillar of Defense Begins Jabari (bottom right) pictured with other Hamas officials. Photo: AFP

November 14, 2012

Ahmed Jabbari, the Hamas military chief, is killed in an Israel Defense Forces airstrike on Gaza that marks the start of Operation Pillar of Defense.
The strike comes in response to an increase in rockets fired from Gaza into Israel. The Israeli goal is to destroy rocket launchers by targeting weapons warehouses. Operation Pillar of Defense continues until Nov. 21, when Israel and Hamas agree to a cease-fire. Over the eight days of battle, 1,506 rockets are fired from Gaza, and 800 strike Israel, damaging homes, schools and other sites in populated areas. Most rockets target southern Israel, but some reach the areas around Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepts 421 rockets.

Born in 1960 in the Gaza Strip, Jabbari as a boy was involved in militant activity against Israel. As a student at the Islamic University of Gaza, he joined Fatah, a violent Palestinian political organization. He was arrested in 1982 and spent 13 years in an Israeli prison. While incarcerated, Jabbari was introduced to Hamas and joined the organization.

Jabbari was considered the mastermind behind almost every attack out of Gaza in the years leading up to his death, including the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006. Shalit was held for five years before being released in a prisoner swap through Egypt, and Jabbari made an unusual public appearance next to him during the exchange.