Hamas has replaced a top commander who was responsible for planning the terror group’s attacks in the West Bank, Israeli intelligence sources told Channel 2 on Wednesday.
Mazen Fuqha was shot dead on March 25 near his home in Tel el-Hawa, a neighborhood in southwestern Gaza City, with a silencer-equipped weapon. Hamas blamed Israel for the killing.
The TV report did not provide the name of the new Hamas commander, saying only that he grew up in the West Bank, has extensive contacts there, but now lives in the Gaza Strip.
He is believed to be taking on a central role in an organization, which the Israeli defense establishment says has recently redoubled its efforts to recruit individuals in the West Bank to carry out attacks against Israel.
Faqha is believed to have been responsible for Hamas terror cells in the West Bank, most notably the squad that planned the kidnap and murder of Israeli teenagers Eyal Yifrah, Naftali Fraenkel and Gilad Shaer in June 2014.
Israel has not acknowledged any involvement in the assassination of Faqha, and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman intimated in April that it was an inside job. “Hamas is known for its internal assassinations — let them look there,” he then 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.
He was freed as part of the 2011 prisoner exchange for captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit and deported to Gaza. He was believed to have been responsible for recent Hamas terror cells in the West Bank.