GAZA STRIP - Senior Hamas officials gave the green light to its operatives in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) to avenge the death of Abdel Majid Dudin.
Dudin, 45, commander of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas's "military" wing, was killed yesterday in a firefight with IDF (Israel Defense Forces) in southern Hevron Hills while resisting arrest.
The terror group's senior commander, responsible for a host of suicide bombings in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the country, has been on Israel's most-wanted list for nearly a decade and a half.
"Fighters in the West Bank have total freedom to retaliate for this heinous crime," said Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades' spokesman Abu Obeida.
"The blood of the dead will not have been spilled for nothing," Obeida said.
"Any target on Palestinian soil is a legitimate one," he, while accusing the Palestinian Authority of being in cahoots with Israel, according to a report on Israel's Channel 10 news.
"The home of the shahid [a martyr for the cause of Islam] was under the surveillance of the Palestinian Authority's security apparatus, and this proves a traitorous cooperation with the occupation [Israel]," Obeida said.
"This security apparatus allows the occupation to do as it wants in the West Bank and to pursue fighters," Channel 10 quoted the group's spokesman as saying.
Dudin served time in a Palestinian jail in Jericho, but was released shortly after the start of the second intifada (armed Palestinian uprising) in the fall of 2000.
Responding to yesterday's counter-terror operation, Brigadier General Noam Tivon, commander of IDF forces in Judea and Samaria, commended the troops.
"We will reach every terrorist who killed Israeli citizens," Tivon said. "We will continue to fight terror and defend the citizens of Israel," the general said.