Israeli Secret Operation Kills Hamas Commander in Gaza
Palestinian medics evacuate a protester (Representational Photo)

Hamas Officials in the Gaza Strip confirm that a senior commander with Hamas' military wing has been killed in a covert operation carried out by Israeli forces in the Palestinian enclave.

The operation also claimed the lives of six Palestinians and that of an Israeli soldier.

A senior official of Hamas said the attack was carried out after an Israeli special forces team crossed the border near the Palestinian town of Khan Younis in a civilian car. The operation specifically targeted Nour Baraka, a prominent commander of the al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas.

"We heard that a special Israeli unit went inside Khan Younis and assassinated Nour Baraka and another [commander]," Ghazi Hamad, senior Hamas official, told Al Jazeera.

"After [that], the car which carried this special unit or some collaborators, they tried to escape … but they were followed by Hamas and the al-Qassam Brigades and after that Israel tried to provide cover to this car by striking here in Gaza," he added.

Reports said during the chase an Israeli aircraft fired more than 40 missiles in the area where the incident took place, killing at least four other people.

The Israeli military did not give details but initially said that all its soldiers had returned.

But it released another statement later in which it said: "During an IDF [Israel Defense Forces] Special Forces operational activity in the Gaza Strip, an exchange of fire evolved. At this incident an IDF officer was killed and an additional officer was moderately injured. Their families have been notified."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut short his visit to Paris to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One and return on Sunday evening, his office said in a statement.

This operation is bound to increase tensions between Hamas and Israel, as the two sides have been involved in increasingly aggressive attacks on each other. At least 200 Palestinians have been killed this year since those living in the Gaza strip began the protest “The great march of return” to demand that Palestinians driven away from their ancestral land and villages be allowed to return in Israel.