Israel bombed the Gaza City house of Salah Shehade, who led the military wing of Hamas, on this date in 2002, killing Shehade as well as fourteen other people. The attack with a 2,200-lb. bomb wounded more than fifty others and destroyed two houses while partially destroying nine others and damaging twenty more. Shehade, 49, oversaw extensive terror operations in Gaza and the West Bank and was involved in the production and firing of rockets at Israeli civilian targets. Nevertheless, following the targeted assassination, twenty-seven Israeli pilots signed a letter promising to refuse to fly further assassination sorties, stating: “We, for whom the Israel Defense Forces and the Air Force are an inalienable part of ourselves, refuse to continue to harm innocent civilians. These actions are illegal and immoral, and are a direct result of the ongoing occupation which is corrupting all of Israeli society.” The signatories included Brigadier General (res.) Yiftah Spector, an aerial hero. All of them were grounded. The petition was inaugurated by Yonatan Shapira, who later founded Combatants for Peace, an Israeli-Palestinian peace group.
“We were all part of the violent struggle of our people, Israelis, as well Palestinians. And we decided . . . that we have to meet together and find a nonviolent way to struggle against occupation and against the circle of mutual violence, and we found out that these guys have a lot in common with us.” –Yonatan Shapira