Zuhir Mussah Ahmed Qaissi. Photo from the IDF website.
The Israeli Defense Forces announced an airstrike today in Gaza that killed Zuhir Mussah Ahmed Kaisi (or Qaissi), the head of the Popular Resistance Committee. From the IDF website:
In a combined IDF-ISA operation, IAF aircraft targeted two members of the Popular Resistance Committee terror organization in the Gaza Strip – a senior operative, Zuhir Mussah Ahmed Kaisi, and a collaborator, Mahmud Ahmed Mahmud Hananni. The squad 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.
This squad is part of the terror infrastructure used to execute attacks via the Sinai Peninsula, and the Israel- Egypt border, while violating Egyptian sovereignty.
Zahir Kaisi born in 1963 and from Gaza City, was the head of the Popular Resistance Committee terror organization and was also its political commander. Kaisi was among the leaders who planned, funded, and directed the combined terror attack that took place on Route 12 in August 2011, in which 40 people were injured. Kaisi was also involved in rocket fire at Israel, as well as in the attack on the Nahal Oz fuel terminal in April 2008, in which two Israeli citizens were killed. In addition, Kaisi was in charge of transferring funds from Hezbollah to terror organizations in the Gaza Strip.
The Israelis have been conducting targeted airstrikes (or assassinations if you will) against top terrorist leaders in Gaza since August 2005, when Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza Strip. While numerous high, mid, and low-ranking terrorists from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committee, and the host of ‘Global Jihad affiliated-terrorists’ – the al Qaeda-linked Salafist groups based in the Gaza Strip – have been killed, these groups are by no means close to defeat. They continue to control territory and are able to launch attacks against the state of Israel (usually in the form of rocket and mortar attacks, but, as we saw last year, the PRC was able to organize a ground attack from the Sinai and strike into southern Israel).
US policymakers who are enamored with the use of drones and special operations teams to selectively target the leadership of al Qaeda and its affiliates worldwide should take notice of Israel’s limitations in dealing with Palestinian terror groups using such tactics. The US has been heavily targeting al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan’s tribal areas in such a manner since 2004 (the campaign was stepped up in the summer of 2008). And despite what US officials want you to believe, neither group is even close to being defeated. In fact, the Taliban still control vast areas of Pakistan’s tribal agency, and will continue to do so until someone decides to take the ground (don’t hold your breath for Pakistan to do this). To repeat:
The “drones” are an excellent tactic to keep al Qaeda and allied groups off balance, but their use is not a substitute for denying terrorists from physically holding ground.
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