GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- An Israeli airstrike killed Ahmad Said Khalil al-Jaabari, Hamas' most senior military commander, in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday.
Al-Jaabari was born in 1960 in the Shujaiyya neighborhood of Gaza City, where he obtained a bachelors degree in history from the Islamic University.
The military leader survived several Israeli targeted assassination attempts and was lightly injured in one of the attempts in 2004.
His eldest son Muhammad was killed in that attack, along with his brother and three other relatives when Israeli helicopters targeted al-Jaabari’s home in Shujaiyya.
Al-Jaabari gained particular prominence for his role in capturing Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit who was seized in a cross-border operation by three Palestinian factions in 2006.
He was known as commander in chief of Hamas' military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, although he was technically second-in-command. The brigades' commander has not been seen since the early 1990s.
His early days with the Palestinian resistance were spent with Fatah, and he served 13 years in Israeli custody after taking part in an operation against Israel in 1982.
While in jail, al-Jaabari became affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood movement before Hamas was established. He was tutored in jail by some of the prominent founders of Hamas, including Sheikh Salah Shahada who became al-Jaabari's close friend after they were released.
After he was freed in 1995, al-Jaabari ran a Hamas-affiliated organization which worked for prisoners and former detainees. In 1997, he worked with the Islamic redemption party, founded by Hamas.
He built the al-Qassam Brigades which he organized as a regular army, and he was in charge of around 10,000 fighters in different divisions.