Report: Netanyahu and defense minister not notified in advance of strike that killed Hamas leader’s 3 sons

Israel’s senior commanders and political leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, were not consulted before a military strike killed three sons of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza, Israeli media reported Thursday. Reports state that neither Netanyahu nor Defense Minister Yoav Gallant had been informed in advance of the airstrike, which was coordinated by the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet intelligence service, according to senior Israeli officials cited by Walla news agency. The report noted that Amir, Mohammad and Hazem Haniyey were targeted as fighters, not because they were sons of the Hamas leader. Ismail Haniyeh, who originally comes from Shati, has 13 children and has been living in exile in Qatar. The Israeli military has not commented on reports that four of Haniyeh’s grandchildren were also killed.

Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV station reported the deaths on Thursday, noting that the airstrike hit near the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, as stated by The Associated Press. Al-Aqsa TV station aired footage of Haniyeh purportedly receiving the news of the deaths while visiting wounded Palestinians who had been transported to a hospital in Doha. As an aide received the news on his phone, Haniyeh nodded, looked down at the ground and slowly walked out of the room. The killing of Haniyeh’s relatives has added a potential complication to negotiations aimed at securing a halt in the fighting in Gaza in exchange for the return of two Israeli civilians and the remains of two Israeli soldiers still believed to be held in the besieged enclave.

Haniyeh said Hamas had “clear and specific” demands for agreeing to any pause in the fighting. “The enemy will be delusional if it thinks that targeting my sons, at the climax of the negotiations and before the movement sends its response, will push Hamas to change its position,” Haniyeh said on Wednesday. Hamas is demanding an immediate end to the Israeli offensive, a withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza and permission for displaced Palestinians to return to their homes.

The strike that killed Haniyeh’s sons happened after Iran’s leader on Wednesday threatened to take action against Israel during a prayer ceremony. He also criticized the U.S. and the West for their involvement amid Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed Israel “will be punished” as he spoke at a prayer ceremony celebrating the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Iran has promised retribution for a reported Israeli airstrike that demolished Iran’s consulate in Syria last month. Digital’s Greg Norman and Reuters contributed to this report.