Copy of 2024-03-30T094456Z_818155771_RC2BU6A67MYX_RTRMADP_3_ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS-IRAN-1712761863734
Ismail Haniyeh during his visit to Tehran on March 27, 2024. Image Credit: REUTERS

CAIRO: Three of Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh’s sons were killed Wednesday in an Israeli strike in Gaza, the Palestinian leader and Israel’s military said, as war rages on after more than six months.

Haniyeh, who is based in Qatar, told Al Jazeera network that three of his sons and some of his grandchildren were killed when their car was hit.

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The deadly strike came as there were no signs of progress in mediation efforts led by the United States, Egypt and Qatar, seeking a halt in the fighting.

“Today three of my sons, Hazem, Amir and Mohammed, and some of my grandchildren were martyred” in the strike on their car, the political head of the Palestinian militant group told Al Jazeera.

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Several media reports and Hamas statements gave varying death tolls for the strike.

An Israeli military statement said its forces killed “three Hamas operatives” who were “on their way to carry out terrorist activities” in central Gaza, identifying them as Amir, Mohammed and Hazem Haniyeh.

“The IDF (Israeli military) confirms that the operatives are three of Ismail Haniyeh’s children,” the statement said, adding that they were members of Hamas’s military wing.

According to Al Jazeera, a drone hit the family’s car in the northern Gaza Strip’s Al Shati refugee camp.

AFP images showed Palestinians in Gaza City inspecting the badly damaged and charred vehicle.

Onlookers check the car in which three sons of Haniyeh were killed in an Israeli air strike in Al Shati camp, west of Gaza City on April 10, 2024. Image Credit: AFP


It said Haniyeh was visiting wounded Palestinians who were evacuated from Gaza to receive treatment at a hospital in Doha, when he received the news of the strike.

The Hamas leader reacted with defiance, saying “the (Israeli) occupation believes... it will break the determination of our people” by targeting leaders of the movements and their relatives.

Haniyeh said the deadly strike would fail to force Hamas’s hand in negotiations towards a truce and hostage release.

“If they (Israel) think that targeting my children... at the peak of these talks and before the movement’s response, if they think that this will force Hamas to change its positions, they are delusional,” he added.

“The blood of my children is not more precious than the blood of the Palestinian people,” he said.

“We will not back down on our demands,” he added.

Haniyeh also told Al Jazeera that, in total, nearly “60 members of my family have been martyred, including my grandchildren, my brother’s sons, my sister’s sons and my cousins”.

The fighting was sparked by Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel that resulted in the deaths of 1,170 people, mostly civilians, Israeli figures show.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 33,482 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.