Brigades That Fire on Israel Show a Deadly New Discipline
From the time he was a boy, Ali al-Manama dreamed of joining the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Hamas movement. His commitment intensified when his father, a Qassam fighter, was killed by an Israeli drone in 2001 as he fired mortar shells over the border. Ali joined up at 15, relatives said, and by 23 had risen to be a commander in this neighborhood in the midsection of this coastal Palestinian territory.
On Friday, at the funeral of a fellow fighter, Mr. Manama leaned over the body and said, “I’ll join you soon, God willing,” recalled a cousin who spoke on the condition that he be identified only by his first name, Mahmoud.
His wish to die fighting and become a martyr — and the honor it would bring in his community — was fulfilled Saturday morning at 7:30, though the missile struck him not while he was in active combat, but while talking on a cellphone that Israeli intelligence might have used to track his whereabouts.
“He had been telling us all week about all the achievements of Qassam,” Mahmoud said. “When he heard about the rockets in Israel, he would be very proud.”
Mr. Manama was one of as many as 15,000 Qassam fighters who are responsible for most of the rocket blitzes that have blanketed southern Israel and reached as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in the five days since the brigade’s operations commander, Ahmed al-Jabari, was assassinated, experts say.