Israel sent tanks and helicopters into Gaza today, in a massive attack that killed 17, including the son of a powerful Hamas leader, the AP reports. It was the bloodiest engagement since Hamas took over Gaza, and the Palestinian Authority called it a “slap in the face” to Washington-backed peace efforts, Reuters reports. Mahmoud Abbas vowed revenge for “a massacre against our people.”
Mahmoud Zahar is seen as the mastermind behind Hamas’ Gaza takeover, and the death of his 24-year-old son Hussam appears likely to fuel increased violence in the region. Hamas, which has not taken the lead in the rocket attacks against Israel in recent months, immediately vowed to step up the bombardment. Palestinian snipers also fired across the border, killing a 19-year-old volunteer worker.