GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- An Israeli strike targeting a car in western Gaza killed the head of the Popular Resistance Committees and a former prisoner released by Israel four years ago, medical officials said Friday.
PRC secretary-general Zuhair Qaisi and Mahmoud Hanani, a Nablus native freed from Israeli custody four years earlier, were killed in the blast in Deir al-Hawa, Gaza health official Adham Abu Salmiya said. He initially said Hanani was released in last year's prisoner swap.
Senior Hamas official Ismail Radwan condemned the attack, telling Ma'an that it is "our people's right to defend themselves." He called on Egypt to stop Israeli aggression.
An Israeli military statement confirmed the operation and said the men "had been responsible for planning a combined terror attack that was to take place via Sinai in the coming days. A direct hit was confirmed."
Israel "does not seek an escalation in the region," however, "the IDF is prepared to defend the residents of Israel and will respond with strength and determination against any attempt to execute terrorist attacks."
Hamas "uses other terror organizations" to carry out attacks and will be held responsible, it said.
A statement from the the An-Nasser Salah Ad-Din Brigades, the PRC's armed wing, promised a "seismic response" to the assassination.
"The enemy by targeting Abu Ibrahim has opened the doors to hell and the continuous revenge for all our martyrs and the response will be by the size of this heinous crime."
Zuhair Qaisi is the third PRC leader to be killed since its establishment 12 years ago.