Hamas has said an Israeli air strike in Gaza killed Ahmed Jabari, the head of its military wing, in an attack on a vehicle on Wednesday.
The military wing of Hamas said in a statement that the assassination “has opened the gates of hell”.
Israel’s military said the strike was the “start of targetting Gaza militants”, according to AFP.
Witnesses say Jabari was travelling in his vehicle in Gaza City when his car exploded.
Jabari is the most senior Hamas official to be killed since an Israeli invasion of Gaza four years ago. He has long topped Israel’s most-wanted list, the Associated Press reported.
Israeli officials had said in recent days that they were considering assassinating top Hamas officials following a wave of heavy rocket fire from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.