15/11/2012 08:07 GMT | Updated 15/11/2012 10:19 GMT

Ahmed Al-Jabari Funeral: Hamas Leaders Absent For Fear Of Israeli Attacks (PICTURES)

Thousands of people thronged to the centre of Gaza City to mourn the death of Hamas military commander Ahmed Al-Jabari, killed in a target Israeli air strike on his car on Wednesday.

No Hamas officials attended the funeral, which various local media speculated was because they were in fear of further Israeli assassination attempts.

The funeral procession began at Gaza's Al-Shifa hospital, in the district of North Rimal, and thousands followed the body held aloft on a stretcher, draped in the green flags of Hamas, making their way towards Jabari's home, with crowd members firing bullets into the air as the procession made its way through packed streets, passed closed shops.


Palestinian mourners carry the body of Hamas' top military commander Ahmed Jabari, killed in an Israeli strike on Wednesday

Jabri was the first high-profile casualty of "Operation Pillar of Defence", as Hamas's military chief, he was top of Israel's most wanted list for his part in co-ordinating terror attacks and the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier.

On Wednesday evening, mourners gathered at the Omari mosque for a memorial service, where some Hamas leaders were present.

Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv reported Jabari was into to be buried next to Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi, the founder and another senior Hamas leader, respectively, who were also both killed by the IDF, but because their graves were close to the border with Israel he was buried in a different, smaller graveyard, in the north of the territory.


Palestinian men react at hospital after the body of Ahmed Jabari, head of the Hamas military wing, was brought, in Gaza City

After the funeral, Hamas official Ismail al-Ashqar said in a statement to local media that the "[Palestinian] resistance can cause Israel great misery.

"The assassination constitutes an exacerbation of the Zionist escalation in the Gaza Strip and opens the door for a new phase of conflict."

The 11-month-old son of a BBC journalist killed in a Gaza strike was also buried on Thursday.

Hamas leaders have been warned by the Israel Defence Force they will be targeted in the coming days.

Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai, Israel's military spokesman said in a statement on Twitter after the attack: "We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead.

"If I were a senior Hamas activist, I would look for a place to hide."