Hamas rejects Israeli insinuation it took out own terror commander
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Hamas rejects Israeli insinuation it took out own terror commander

After Liberman surmises assassination of Mazen Faqha was inside job, spokesman for Gaza group says 'the Zionist enemy' is responsible

Dov Lieber is The Times of Israel's Arab affairs correspondent.

The body of Hamas terrorist Mazen Faqha is carried by members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, during his funeral in Gaza City on March 25, 2017. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)
The body of Hamas terrorist Mazen Faqha is carried by members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, during his funeral in Gaza City on March 25, 2017. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)

A spokesperson for Hamas’s military wing rejected claims by Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman that the Gaza-based terror group was behind the recent assassination of one its top commanders, reiterating its claim that Israel killed Mazen Faqha.

“We affirm that no one is responsible for the crime apart from the Zionist enemy, and it will not succeed in any of its declared or hidden attempts to disclaim or to shuffle the cards,” Abu Obeida said.

The spokesman said Liberman’s comments were a sign that Israel was afraid after Hamas vowed revenge over the killing.

Faqha was shot dead on March 25 near his home in Tel el-Hawa, a neighborhood in southwestern Gaza City, with a weapon equipped with a silencer. He was hit by four bullets to the head in an ambush in his underground parking garage, reports in Gaza said.

On Sunday, Liberman said the assassination had been an inside job.

“Hamas is known for its internal assassinations — let them look there,” he said on Sunday.

Israeli minister of Defense Avigdor Liberman (c) at the inauguration ceremony for the new Elbit factory in the southern Israeli town of Arad. April 2, 2017. (Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defense)
Israeli minister of Defense Avigdor Liberman (c) at the inauguration ceremony for the new Elbit factory in the southern Israeli town of Arad. April 2, 2017. (Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defense)

Faqha, 38, originally from the West Bank, had received nine life sentences for planning a 2002 suicide bombing in Israel in which nine people were killed and 52 were wounded.

He was freed as part of the 2011 deal to release captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit and deported to Gaza. He is believed to have been responsible for recent Hamas terror cells in the West Bank.

Israel has not taken responsibility for the killing.

Mazen Faqha, upon his release after the Shalit deal in 2011. (Screen capture Twitter)
Mazen Faqha, upon his release after the Shalit deal in 2011. (Screen capture Twitter)

The minister made his comments during a tour of the southern city of Sderot, which has suffered rocket attacks from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip for years.

“We’re not looking for adventures and we run our security responsibly and with determination,” Liberman added.

On Saturday, Hamas said it would take “intensive action against Israeli agents in the coming hours and days” in revenge for Faqha’s killing, the Haaretz newspaper reported.

Hamas' new leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar (2nd R) and senior political leader Ismail Haniyeh (L) sit next to the son of assassinated Hamas military leader Mazen Faqha on March 27, 2017, in Gaza City. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)
Hamas’ new leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar (2nd R) and senior political leader Ismail Haniyeh (L) sit next to the son of assassinated Hamas military leader Mazen Faqha on March 27, 2017, in Gaza City. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)

Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh promised that Hamas would capture those involved in Faqha’s killing and that “every hand that hurt the martyr Mazen…will be cut off.”

“Assassinations do not frighten us,” Haniyeh said on Saturday, according to Channel 2 news. “These murderers and their dispatchers will not escape divine punishment, punishment by the people and punishment by the resistance organizations.”

Meanwhile Hamas’s Interior Ministry vowed that “vigorous steps will be taken against the agents and collaborators of Israel in the next few hours and days.”

Ministry spokesman Iyad al-Bozum said measures to be taken soon could mean arrests, trials and even executions.

In a speech broadcast at a memorial service in Gaza for Faqha, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said last week that “Israel decided to change the rules of the game, and we accept the challenge,”

“The Zionist occupier took from us a great hero and for this we will not sit quietly,” he added.

Sue Surkes contributed to this report.

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