Hamas is denying a Channel 10 report that the Israel Defense Forces killed a senior Hamas operative who headed the Islamist organization's vast arsenal of rockets.
According to Channel 10, a joint Shin Bet-IDF operation resulted in the killing of Ayman Siam, one of the most wanted Hamas figures.
Channel 10 is reporting that Siam was killed in a strike as he was driving in a vehicle in the southern Gaza Strip.
Various media entities, however, are quoting Hamas sources as saying that Siam was "fully functioning."
Earlier Thursday, Palestinian officials said that Israeli air strikes killed eight members of a family including five children in a pre-dawn raid on Gaza.
The IDF had no immediate comment on the report of the deadliest single bombing raid since its Gaza operation began. The Palestinian Health Ministry said the strike destroyed at least two homes in Khan Younis in southern Gaza.
An Israeli airstrike killed four members of the Gaza Strip's main security apparatus, the Ma'an news agency reported earlier Thursday.
Three Islamic Jihad operatives were also killed in an IAF strike in Gaza. The IDF Spokesperson said that the three men were involved in the firing of rockets at Israel.
In the northern Gaza Strip, the IDF killed a Palestinian operative who was active in firing rockets at Israel.
At least 75 Palestinians have been killed in the violence, more than 50 of them civilians, Gaza medical officials said.
The Israel Air Force has struck 320 targets in Gaza over the past 24 hours, and 750 targets since the operation that began Monday night to extinguish Hamas rocket on Israel.
In overnight air strikes, 58 Hamas tunnels, 220 underground rocket launchers, and 46 command and control facilities - many located in the homes of senior Hamas commanders - have been destroyed, a senior military source said Thursday morning.
Some 80 command and control centers have been bombed since the start of the operation
, the source added, and 513 underground rocket launchers have been destroyed.
Around 800 tons of explosives have been fired by air force jets on targets this week, the source said. The IAF's current rate of fire is double that of Operation Pillar of Defense, launched in 2012 to stop Hamas rocket fire from Gaza. "We'll see this trend increasing, as part of our firepower policy," he said.
The increase in firepower comes as the IDF continues to amass Ground Forces on the border with Gaza. The source said Hamas is waking up on Thursday to "a lot of damage in Gaza. Its facilities are destroyed, as are the homes of its battalion and deputy battalion commanders that were used as command and control centers in every way. Hamas was running the operations of their units out of these homes. Some had weapons storage caches in them."
The IDF is continuing the pressure on Hamas, he said, and the Gazan regime is frustrated by the fact that military power it has built up over years is systematically being destroyed. Iron Dome's high effectiveness in stopping rocket fire on the Israeli home front is also frustrating Hamas, he said.Reuters contributed to this report.
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