Hamas leader says three sons killed in Gaza strike

Ismail Haniyeh (Reuters)
Ismail Haniyeh (Reuters)

Three sons of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh have been killed in an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip he has said.

Haniyeh, based abroad in Qatar, has been the face of Hamas during ceasefire talks as war with Israel has raged on in Gaza, where his family home was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike back in November.

The three sons - Hazem, Amir and Mohammad - were killed after the car they were driving in was bombed in Gaza's Al-Shati camp, Hamas said. Three of Haniyeh's grandchildren were also killed in the attack and a third was wounded, Hamas media said.

"The blood of my sons is not dearer than the blood of our people," Haniyeh, 61, who has 13 sons and daughters according to Hamas sources, told pan-Arab Al Jazeera TV.

The Israeli military said it was checking the report. Israel's six-month war inside Gaza was triggered by a brutal terror attack inside Israel by Hamas, during which around 1,200 people were killed and 250 more taken hostage. More than 33,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, according to health officials in the Hamas-run territory.

Israel accuses Haniyeh and other leaders of continuing to "pull the strings of the Hamas terror organisation".

Haniyeh's three sons and three grandchildren were making family visits during the first day of the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday in Shati, their home refugee camp in Gaza City, according to relatives.

Hamas said on Tuesday it was studying an Israeli ceasefire proposal but that it was "intransigent" and met none of the Palestinian demands.

"Our demands are clear and specific and we will not make concessions on them. The enemy will be delusional if it thinks that targeting my sons, at the climax of the negotiations and before the movement sends its response, will push Hamas to change its position," Haniyeh claimed.

Hamas wants an end to Israeli military operations and a withdrawal from the enclave, and permission for displaced Palestinians to return home.

Haniyeh's eldest son confirmed in a Facebook post that his three brothers were killed. "Thanks to God who honoured us by the martyrdom of my brothers, Hazem, Amir and Mohammad and their children," wrote Abdel-Salam Haniyeh.

Appointed to lead Hamas in 2017, Haniyeh has moved between Turkey and Qatar's capital Doha, avoiding Israeli-imposed travel restrictions in blockaded Gaza and enabling him to act as a negotiator in the latest ceasefire negotiations or communicate with Hamas' main ally Iran.