Ahmed Said Khalil Jabari was the most-senior Hamas official to be killed by Israel since Operation Cast Lead four years ago.

Jabari, officially the second in command of Hamas’s Izzadin Kassam Brigades, but its de facto leader, has long been at the top of Israel’s most wanted list.

He has been credited with making the terrorist group’s military wing increasingly more professional.

It was Jabari who personally oversaw the kidnapping and imprisonment of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit.

A shadowy figure who deliberately kept a low profile and rarely made public appearances, such was his involvement in the Schalit kidnapping that he allowed himself to be photographed last October as he escorted the IDF soldier to Gaza’s Rafah Crossing on the day of his release last year.

After Schalit’s release, Jabari said Hamas planned to kidnap more Israeli soldiers and officers, to use them as bargaining chips for the release of Palestinian prisoners.

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The Hamas military-wing leader even boasted to the Al- Hayat al-Ayoun newspaper that most of the terrorists released in the first wave of the deal to free Schalit had been collectively responsible for murdering 569 Israeli civilians.

The senior Hamas member, who was born in 1960 in Gaza City’s Shujaiyya district, started out as a member of rival movement Fatah.

In 1982, sometime after Jabari graduated from university, the Israeli authorities arrested him and sentenced him to a 13-year jail term for planning terrorist attacks.

While in prison, Jabari met several Hamas members, including the terror group’s cofounder Abdel Aziz Rantissi.

By the time he left prison in 1995, Jabari had abandoned Fatah to join Hamas, becoming involved in the terror group’s military activities in the Gaza Strip.

Three years later, in 1998, the Palestinian Authority arrested Jabari for his involvement in Hamas’s military activities in Gaza. When Jabari was released in 1999, he resumed those activities.

Jabari’s rise through the ranks of Hamas is evident from the fact that by 2002, when the leader of Hamas’s military wing, Muhammad Deif, was injured in an air strike, it was Jabari who was chosen to take over as operational leader.

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