Raed al Atar
Raed al Atar (1974–2014) was the commander of the Rafah company of the Hamas Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades and member of the Hamas high military council. According to the Congressional Research Service analyst Jim Zanotti, his command was important due to Rafah being the destination point for the smuggling tunnels from Egypt. In 2010, he reportedly held significant power and influence in the Gaza Strip, and asserted authority over the smuggling tunnels.
In April 1995, he was sentenced in a quick trial by the Palestinian Authority court to two years in jail for training with illegal weapons.
On 1 February 1999 a Palestinian police captain, Rifat Joudah, was killed in Gaza a shootout with al Atar and two other members of Hamas, as he was trying to arrest them. The men then sped away, running over an 8-year-old girl, Fadwa Abu Jerwana, who died from her injuries. The men were subsequently arrested in the Shati refugee camp following a second exchange of fire with security forces. In April that year, al Atar was sentenced to death by the Palestinian Authority for the killing of a Joudah. As soon as the death sentence was pronounced, Attar’s relatives took to the streets and stoned the Joudeh home.
Violent protests in Gaza resulted in two deaths. Following the riots and criticism of the trial, Yasser Arafat met with civic leaders in Rafah and asked them to restore calm, promising to review the death sentence.
During the 2009 Gaza War, al Atar fled to El Arish in Sinai, along with Mohammed Sanwar, one of the militants behind the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. That year, al Atar threatened Israel, telling reporters that if Israel does not accept the Hamas demands to free 1,450 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit, Hamas would kidnap more soldiers.
Reports claim that Atar authorized the August 2010 firing of Grad-style rockets from the Sinai Peninsula at Eilat, Israel and Aqaba, Jordan. According to Palestinian sources, Raed authorized the attack, with the approval of the Hamas leadership abroad, including Khaled Meshal, and with the backing of Iranian intelligence agents. According to some reports, the attack took place reportedly without the knowledge of his direct commander, Ahmed Jabari, while according to Egyptian officials, such an operation could not have been carried out without Jabari's approval.
Al Atar was killed in Rafah, Gaza on 21 August 2014, in a missile strike by the Israeli army.
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