Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Sunday suggested that Hamas was responsible for last month’s assassination of a top terrorist, which the Gaza-based terror group has blamed on Israel.
In a hit that Hamas chiefs linked to Israel’s Mossad, Mazen 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 his underground parking garage, Gaza reports said.
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.
Faquha 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.
“Hamas is known for its internal assassinations — let them look there,” Liberman said on Sunday.
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 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.
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.
Hamas shut the Erez Crossing into Israel last Sunday after blaming the Jewish state for the assassination. On Monday, it reopened Erez for those entering Gaza, but men between 18 and 45 were still largely prevented from leaving the enclave of two million people.
On Wednesday, an internet site connected to Hamas posted a video showing Liberman and other Israeli leaders at the center of a sniper scope.
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.