Hamas leaders go underground


Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip have gone into hiding for fear they could be targeted for assassination by Israel.

Ismail Haniyeh, the top Hamas politician in Gaza, and the commander of the Islamist group’s terrorist operations, Ahmed Jaabari, disappeared from public view this week, Palestinian sources said Monday.

The move appeared to be a response to Israel’s decision to step up airstrikes and other pinpoint military operations against Hamas following its cross-border rocket salvos.

Israeli security sources said there is an extensive “hit list” of Hamas members involved in the fighting but that politicians are unlikely to be attacked at this stage.

Israel is reluctant to escalate confrontations to a point that would prompt Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to abandon peace talks. It is also mindful of the fate of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held hostage by Hamas-led gunmen in Gaza.

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