GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- An Israeli airstrike in Gaza killed three senior Hamas military commanders Thursday, delivering a likely blow to the organization's morale and highlighting the long reach of Israel's intelligence services.<br />
The strike marked a further escalation in fighting after Egyptian efforts to end the war collapsed earlier this week, and signaled no end in sight for violence that has killed more than 2,000 Palestinians and 67 Israelis.<br />
The pre-dawn strike leveled a four-story house in a densely populated neighborhood of the southern town of Rafah, killing six people, including the three senior Hamas commanders.<br />
Israel said the trio had played a key role in expanding Hamas' military capabilities in recent years, including digging attack tunnels leading to Israel, training fighters and smuggling weapons to Gaza.<br />
Thousands of Palestinians marched through Rafah in a funeral procession Thursday afternoon firing guns, waving flags of different militant groups and chanting religious slogans. Those killed were carried aloft through the crowd on stretchers, wrapped in green Hamas flags.<br />
Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said Israel "will not succeed in breaking the will of our people or weaken the resistance," and that Israel "will pay the price."<br />
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the "superior intelligence" of the Shin Bet security service and the military's "precise execution" of the attack.
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
House Republican leaders rallied around one of their own, Whip Steve Scalise, on Tuesday after he said he regrets speaking 12 years ago to a white supremacist organization and condemns the views of such groups.
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