A member of Hamas since the formation of the group in 1987, he quickly became one of its influent leaders and was arrested a few times by Israel or the Palestinian Authority. After Yahya Ayash's death, in 1996, Shahade became the official leader of the group, a responsibility he shared with Mohammed Deif and Adnan al-Ghoul.
During the Al-Aqsa Intifada, Israel accused him of masterminding several attacks against both Israeli soldiers and civilians in the Gaza strip and in Israel proper. It was also reported that Shahade was involved in the production of Qassam rockets, fired against Israeli civilian targets, and other homemade weapons, as well as in the smuggling of military equipment in the Gaza strip.
On July 22, 2002, the Israeli Defense Forces targeted the building in which Shahade was hiding using a one ton bomb dropped by a F-16 plane in a densely populated neighborhood of Gaza City. 15 people were killed, including Shahade, his wife and 9 children. 50 others required medical attention as a result of the attack.
The attack received widespread condemnation from other Middle Eastern Nations, Western Europe, and the United States. Ariel Sharon initially praised it as "one of our greatest successes," but later told Yediot Ahronot, "had I known the outcome, I would have postponed the assassination.
In December 2005, a class-action lawsuit was filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights, naming former Shin Bet director Avraham Dichter, the military chief in charge of the operation, as the sole defendant. Referring in particular to the Shehada assassination, the lawsuit alleges that Dichter "developed, implemented and escalated the practice of targeted killings." Citing the assassination of more than 300 Palestinian leaders and the deaths and wounding of hundreds of innocent bystanders, the suit claims that assassination is illegal under international law. In 2007, the Israeli State Prosecutor's Office announced that an independent commission of inquiry into the death of the 14 innocent Palestinian civilians would be held following a petition by Yesh Gvul.
ISRAEL: IDF OPERATION IN THE GAZA STRIP LAST NIGHT (22/ 23 JULY 2002).(directed at Hamas leader, Salah Shehade)(Brief Article)
Jul 23, 2002; (IDF Spokesperson 23 July 2002). Last night, the IDF continued its fight against terror, this time in the Gaza Strip. Salah...