Israel’s Netanyahu not consulted on killing of Haniyeh’s sons: Report

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Israeli forces killed three sons of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in an airstrike in Gaza without consulting senior commanders or political leaders including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli media reported on Thursday.

Quoting senior Israeli officials, Walla news agency said neither Netanyahu nor Defense Minister Yoav Gallant had been told in advance of the strike, which was coordinated by the Israeli military and the Shin Bet intelligence service.

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It said Amir, Mohammad and Hazem Haniyeh had been targeted as fighters and not because they were the sons of Hamas’s political leader. The Israeli military did not comment on reports that four of Haniyeh’s grandchildren had also been killed.

The military declined to comment on the reports and no comment was available from the prime minister’s office.

The killing of Haniyeh’s relatives has added a potential complication to negotiations aimed at securing a halt in the fighting in Gaza in exchange for the return of the 133 Israeli hostages still believed to be held in the besieged enclave.

“I can only hope this won't affect the negotiation. I hope it won’t make Hamas put harder conditions on the deal,” said Ofri Bibas Levy, whose brother Yarden Bibas was taken captive with his wife and two small children during the Hamas-led attack on southern Israel on October 7.

The conservative Israel Hayom daily quoted unnamed military officials saying the strike was carried out in accordance with procedure but it said there was a question about whether hitting such a sensitive target should have been carried out without first consulting superiors.

The left-wing Haaretz newspaper, a relentless critic of Netanyahu and his government, called the killing and last week’s assassination of senior Iranian officials in the Iranian embassy in Damascus “proactive acts of aggression, designed to thwart any chance of a hostage deal.”

The incident came days after two officers were dismissed for misjudgment and breaches of operating procedures in a strike on an aid convoy in Gaza that killed seven aid workers.

Haniyeh said Hamas had “clear and specific” demands for agreeing to any pause in the fighting.

“The enemy will be delusional if it thinks that targeting my sons, at the climax of the negotiations and before the movement sends its response, will push Hamas to change its position,” Haniyeh said on Wednesday.

Global calls for a ceasefire have been growing as the war has entered its seventh month but there has been little sign of progress in the talks.

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Hamas is demanding an end to the Israeli offensive, a withdrawal of Israeli forces and permission for Gaza’s displaced Palestinians to return to their homes.

Israel wants to secure the return of the hostages but says it will not end the war until Hamas is destroyed as a military force, and that it is still planning to assault the southern city of Rafah, where more than a million civilians have taken refuge.

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