Hamas says three senior leaders killed in Gaza

The Islamic militant group Hamas says three of its senior military leaders have been killed in an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip. Hamas says in a text message sent to media that the three—Mohammed Abu Shamaleh, Mohammed Barhoum and Raed al-Attar—were killed in the Israeli air strike near the southern town of Rafah early on Thursday. They’re considered to be in the senior levels of Hamas. Their deaths come after Hamas sent a warning to foreign airlines to halt flights into Tel Aviv as a six-week war with Israel spiralled into further bloodshed after truce talks collapsed. The Hamas military warned of further rocket attacks on Israel’s strategic interests on Thursday, including Ben Gurion Airport east of Tel Aviv. Last month, many international airlines briefly suspended flights into Tel Aviv after a Hamas rocket struck close to the airport.

We are warning international airlines and press them to stop flying into Ben Gurion Airport from 6am [0300 GMT].

Abu Obeida, spokesman of the Hamas armed wing

On Wednesday, Israeli warplanes carried out dozens of air strikes across Gaza in response to multiple rocket attacks on southern Israel, as nine days of calm exploded into bloodshed. The UN Security Council has urged Israel and the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table to quickly agree on a lasting truce in Gaza. The fighting over the last six weeks has been the most violent confrontation between Israel and Hamas militants since the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, from 2000 to 2005. At least 2,049 Palestinians and 67 people on the Israeli side have been killed since the conflict began.