Israeli air strikes targeted 47-year-old Hisham Saidani, a resident of Bureij refugee camp in Gaza and a man Israel describes as one of the founders of the Hashura Council of the Mujahideen terrorist organisation.The council – operating under the "Global Jihad" umbrella – was "involved in significant terror activity against Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers and has been a promoter of radical Salafi ideas and Jihad", a statement from the Israeli Defence Force said.
A second man – also described by Israeli sources as a militant – was killed in Sunday's attack.
"Saidani had been planning a complex attack to be carried out along the Sinai border, a collaboration between Gaza-based militants and Salafi operatives in Sinai," the IDF said in the statement.
Hamas described Saidani as heading the Tawhid and Jihad (One God and Holy War), a group with an Islamist ideology shared by al-Qaeda.
Another man – also described by Israel as a "Salafist activist" – was killed in an Israeli Air Force attack on Jabalya that injured two passers-by, including a 12-year old boy, sources inside Gaza said, while in a third air strike Izz Addin Abu Nusiera, 23 and Ahmad Abu Fatayir, 22, were killed.
In retaliation, militants in Gaza fired rockets into the Eshkol area which exploded in open fields, causing no injuries or damage. On Friday a rocket landed in the courtyard of a residential building in the Israeli town of Netivot, the BBC reported. There were no injuries.
The latest escalation of hostilities began on October 7, when Israel carried out another attack, this time against 24-year-old Abd-Allah Hassan Mikawy and Tal'at Khalil Al-Darbi, 23.
Mr Hassan died of his injuries while Mr Al-Darbi's leg was amputated and he remains in a critical condition in Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, medical sources say.
The attack occurred as the two men were on a motorbike riding past Taha Hussain Elementary School in Rafah in southern Gaza.
"Israel refers to these attacks as 'targeted killings', however on many occasions such attacks also injure and kill civilians," the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights said.
In this case, eight civilian bystanders, including one woman and four children, were wounded, the centre reported.
"My son Nassim was sitting at the entrance of the house when the missiles were launched," Sabrin Al-Maqousi said in the centre's statement.
"I rushed to bring him inside and found that he had already been injured by shrapnel . . . I was trying to calm my other baby down when I noticed she was also bleeding from the head. I had also been hit by shrapnel and was bleeding."
At least 55 Kassam rockets were fired into more than 12 towns in southern Israel in retaliation, affecting thousands of residents who were forced to flee to bomb shelters.