Conflicting reports concerning the mysterious death of a senior Hamas official surfaced Thursday, three days after his mangled body was said to have been uncovered in the ruins of the battered Shejaiya neighborhood, in the northeastern Gaza Strip.
While initial reports stated that Ayman Taha, a former spokesman for the Gaza-based terror organization, had been killed during an Israeli airstrike in the embattled coastal enclave, Palestinian daily Al-Quds reported that he was executed by a Hamas firing squad earlier this week for allegedly maintaining contact with intelligence services in Arab countries, and specifically in Egypt.
Taha, according to Al-Quds, was shot several times in the head and chest. His body was later transferred to the Shifa hospital. Hamas initially barred the incident from publication until Thursday, when the information was released.
In February, Taha was arrested and later investigated by Hamas for suspected corruption charges, according to Arab media. Taha had allegedly bought villas in Gaza with embezzled money, Al-Ayyam reported. He was subsequently held in a Gaza Strip detention facility for months. Hamas had stressed that the arrest was over “financial issues,” adding that the detention was purely an internal matter, and was not related to security issues concerning “enemies.”
Taha, who was held in Israeli prisons from 2003 to 2006, assumed the Hamas spokesman position after the group’s violent takeover of the Strip in 2007. He later became the coordinator between the Hamas leadership in Gaza and the group’s leadership abroad.
In 2009, Reuters reported that Taha was detained by Egyptian security personnel after attempting to smuggle $11 million across the Rafah border crossing and into the Strip.
Hamas neither confirmed nor denied the reports of Taha’s execution.
Elhanan Miller contributed to this report