Rayan is the highest-profile casualty of the current hostilities between Israel and Hamas, which began a week ago. Haaretz reports that including the latest Israeli airstrikes Friday morning against Hamas targets, Palestinian deaths number at 425, with some 2,000 more injured. Also on Friday, Palestinian militias launched some 20 rockets at southern Israel, causing two minor injuries, reports The Jerusalem Post. The Post writes that three Israeli civilians and one Israeli soldier have been killed in the fighting.
He was uniquely popular and respected among the military wing; unlike most of the movement's civilian leadership, Rayan fought alongside troops in battles with Israeli soldiers and tanks.
He advocated suicide bombings, and his own son, 22, died in such an attack on an Israeli settlement.
Although most senior Hamas leaders went into hiding when the Israeli air barrages began, Rayan made a point of living openly in his home in the Jabaliya refugee camp. He encouraged other leaders to follow suit.
"He refused to leave his house; he preferred to be a martyr," the Hamas official said.