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Israel eliminates top Hamas commander who helped direct October 7 massacre, IDF says

Israel says it has eliminated Nassim Abu Ajina, commander of the Beit Lahia Battalion in the northern division of Hamas on Tuesday, the latest senior Hamas commander.

Israeli forces have eliminated a top Hamas commander who helped carry out the October 7 massacre in Israel, the Israeli Defense Forces announced Tuesday.

The IDF and the Israeli security force Shin Bet say a Tuesday airstrike killed Nassim Abu Ajina, commander of the Beit Lahia Battalion in the northern division of Hamas. IDF Spokesman Daniel Hagari says Ajina was responsible for directing attacks against Israeli citizens on October 7.

"The IDF and the Shin Bet eliminated the commander of the Beit Lahia Battalion of the Hamas terrorist organization. Fighter jets guided by intelligence information from the Amman and the Shin Bet killed last night the commander of the Beit Lahia Battalion in the northern division of Hamas, Nassim Abu Ajina, who sent the murderous attacks of Hamas on October 7 to Kibbutz Erez and the Moshav Netiv Hathara," Hagari wrote in a statement.

"In the past, he commanded the Hamas air force, and took part in the development of the terrorist organization's drone and paraglider capabilities," Hagari added. "His elimination constitutes a significant damage to the efforts of the terrorist organization Hamas in disrupting the ground operations of the IDF."

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Ajina is the latest senior Hamas commander to fall in Israel's retaliatory campaign. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to destroy Hamas in Gaza and rejected calls for a cease-fire on Monday.

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Netanyahu compared the Oct. 7 massacre by Hamas to Pearl Harbor and the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S., saying Israel is equally justified in retaliating against Hamas terrorists in Gaza. He went on to say that Israel will continue its war against Hamas "until victory."

"Calls for a cease-fire are calls for Israel to surrender to Hamas, to surrender to terrorism, to surrender to barbarism. That will not happen," Netanyahu said. 

"Ladies and gentlemen, the Bible says that there is a time for peace and a time for war. This is a time for war. A war for our common future," he continued. "Today we draw a line between the forces of civilization and the forces of barbarism. It is a time for everyone to decide where they stand. Israel will stand against the forces of barbarism until victory. I hope and pray that civilized nations everywhere will back this fight."

Israeli forces entered the second stage of their conflict with Hamas this week, greatly expanding ground operations within the Gaza Strip. Military officials have warned that the war will be long and difficult. 

Netanyahu also said Monday that the "horrors that Hamas perpetrated on Oct. 7 remind us that we will not realize the promise of a better future unless we, the civilized world, are willing to fight the barbarians." 

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"Because the barbarians are willing to fight us. And their goal is clear — shatter that promising future, destroy all that we cherish and usher in a world of fear and darkness," he continued.

As of Tuesday, as many as 9,400 people have been killed in the war on both sides, including at least 1,400 Israeli civilians and soldiers and 33 Americans.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry claims more than 8,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza and 110 in the West Bank, though the U.S. has dismissed the accuracy of that data.

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