Israeli soldiers assassinated, on Tuesday morning, the general leader of the Al Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, Thabit Ayada, 24, in the West Bank city of Tulkarem after invading it and breaking into dozens of homes.
Palestine News Network reported that soldiers surrounded the house of Husam Sweiss, at the western neighborhood of the city, and fired rounds of live ammunition at it before forcing dozens of residents out of their houses.
Soldiers broke into the house of Husam Sweiss after damaging its main door, and stormed a flat used as residence for students.
Witnesses said soldiers surrounded a hideout used by Thabit Ayadeh, 24, and shot him dead in the ensuing clash which took place after troops stormed the building.
An Israeli army source confirmed that the predawn invasion targeted Ayada, and claimed that soldiers had first attempted to arrest him.
The source added that soldiers found two rifles and an explosive belt near in the house. Soldiers also confiscated a personal computer.
The source claimed that Ayada "stormed out of his hideout and opened fire at the soldiers". One soldier was lightly hurled, the source added.
Residents of the invaded area said that soldiers also broke into the house of Ayada’s father and brought him to identify the body of his son.
Soldiers charged the building, were Ayada was hiding, with explosives and detonated it; damage was reported to several surrounding buildings.
Hundreds of residents and Hamas supporters gathered near the hospital.
The body of Ayada will be transferred to his village Khizma, near Ramallah.
Also, soldiers arrested several residents in the city after breaking into homes and searching them; three of the arrestees were identified as Amer Shadeed, Shadi Salman, and Ahmad Al Sabareeny.
Rafat Naseef, one of the political leaders of Hamas, said that "this crime is part of the continuous Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people", adding that the resistance will retaliate to the assassination.
Thabit Ayada was an engineer. His brother Moayyad was killed in 2002, while his other brother was arrested two weeks ago.