Israel launches targeted killing operation against terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) released a statement confirming the successful elimination of Merad Abu Merad, a commander responsible for leading Hamas’ air operations. Along with Merad, the IDF also reported the targeted killing of Ali Qadi, a commanding officer in the elite Nukhba unit of Hamas.

Hamas has yet to confirmed the deaths of Merad and Qadi, but the group has not made any official statements regarding the deaths of any of its members who have participated in fighting. The estimated number of Hamas terrorists is potentially in the hundreds.

According to the IDF, Merad headed Hamas’ air division. This likely means Merad commanded Hamas’ drone operations. The group has claimed to possess various types of drones, including surveillance and loitering drones.

Merad was not the only target of the attack, as Qadi, a commander in the special Nukhba fighting unit, was also killed. Social media posts suggested that Qadi may have been killed on Friday morning, with several Telegram accounts run by Palestinian news outlets reporting that Qadi’s wife and children were killed in an Israeli airstrike. While it is probable that Qadi was killed in the same attack, his name was possibly not revealed for operational security reasons.

Apart from Merad and Qadi, airstrikes in the last eight days of fighting have killed terrorists on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon and in the Gaza Strip.

On Oct. 8, the Popular Resistance Committees, an Iran-backed terrorist organization, announced the death of Abu Hillal during an IDF airstrike in Rafah.

On Tuesday, an official from the group informed Reuters that senior Hamas members Jawad Abu Shammala and Zakaria Abu Maamar were killed in an airstrike in Khan Younis, located in the southern region of the Gaza Strip.

On Oct. 12, al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a loose affiliate of Fatah, published a statement acknowledging the death of senior member Sami al-Abd al-Hassani by an IDF airstrike in the al-Shati camp.

Lastly, on Oct. 14, Hamas issued a statement mourning the death of three members from its branch in Lebanon. This statement is particularly notable. It’s the first time in recent years that Hamas admitted that it dispatched its members to infiltrate Israel from Lebanon.

Also noteworthy are the announcements by Hezbollah acknowledging the deaths of four members in recent days. In one instance, the group did not say how or when the fighter died.

Israel is expected to continue eradicating prominent members of Hamas and other Palestinian extremist groups during its ongoing military campaign. These targets are diverse, ranging from ordinary fighters to commanders, leaders and engineers involved in the development and manufacturing of rockets, including unmanned aerial vehicles. The IDF is also likely pursuing well-known Hamas leaders such as Yahya Sinwar, Muhammed Deif, and Marwan Issa. However, these objectives are highly ambitious since these leaders are entrenched and inherently difficult to locate.

Addendum: The deaths of Hezbollah and Hamas members were added to the article.

Joe Truzman is an editor and senior research analyst at FDD's Long War Journal focused primarily on Palestinian armed groups and non-state actors in the Middle East.

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