Hamas said on Wednesday its military commander Mohammed Deif was alive and still issuing orders in its fight against Israel in the Gaza Strip, according to media report.
Israel airstrikes on Tuesday night attacked Deif's house in the Gaza city, an Israeli official told Channel 2 new TV on Wednesday.
Hamas did not disclose immediately whether Deif had survived the airstrikes but Hamas' exiled deputy leader Mussa Abu Marzuk told reporters in Cairo that his wife and daughter were killed in the strike.
A spokesperson of Israeli prime minister's office said they would not comment on the news. A military spokesperson said Israel 's airforce last night targeted some 60 "terror sites across the Gaza Strip", but declined to comment on any specific target.
However, Ya'akov Perry, cabinet minister and former chief of the Shin Bet (Israel's security service), told Ynet website news that Deif was a "legitimate target." "If Israel is behind the attack, then it is a step in right direction. Hamas leaders should know they are not immune."
According to the Shin Bet, Deif has been the commander of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military wing, since its former leader, Yahya Ayyash, was assassinated by Israel in 1996.
Israel charges that Deif was the mastermind behind several attacks against Israelis, including the kidnapping and murder of the soldier Nachshon Wachsman in 1994. Deif survived at least four assassination attempts, which caused him severe disability.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri also issued a statement, saying Israelis would not be safe until Deif decided so. "The occupation will pay for its crimes against Palestinian civilians and those living around the Gaza border will not return home until Mohammed Deif decides so," he said.
Previously, Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman wrote on his Facebook page that, calling for military operations to topple Hamas.
Meanwhile, fighting has continued between Israel and the Hamas- led Gaza militant groups after a six-day ceasefire, which was brokered by Egypt, while the talks for a more enduring truce deal in the Egyptian capital of Cairo are crumbling.
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