Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on Saturday vowed “divine punishment” for the assassins of one of its terror chiefs and those who sent them, as his organization warned of upcoming “radical measures” against collaborators with Israel.
“Assassinations do not frighten us,” Haniyeh said, 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.”
Hamas has accused Israel of being behind the assassination last Friday night of Mazen Faqha, a Hamas operative previously released during the prisoner exchange in 2011 that secured the freedom of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Faqha was shot dead near his home in Tel el-Hawa, a neighborhood in southwestern Gaza City, by assailants using a weapon equipped with a silencer. He was hit by four bullets to the head,according to Gaza reports.
There was no official comment from Israel on his killing.
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.”
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 on Sunday after blaming the Jewish state for the assassination. On Monday, they reopened Erez for those entering Gaza, but men between 18 and 45 are still largely prevented from leaving the enclave of two million people.
Reports said Hamas was looking for the assassins, believing they are still in Gaza.
On Saturday the group said it would once again allow foreign UN and Red Cross workers to leave Gaza, after international officials protested the ongoing restrictions.
Originally from a small village in the West Bank, Faqha headed the Hamas office in Gaza tasked with launching terror attacks against Israel from and in the West Bank. His subordinates in the branch specialized in recruiting suicide attackers, collecting weapons and preparing explosive devices.
Faqha, 38, was responsible for sending a suicide bomber to carry out an attack in northern Israel in 2002 in which nine people were killed and 52 were wounded. Before his release as part of the Shalit deal, Faqha was serving nine life sentences for planning the deadly attack.
Avi Issacharoff and AFP contributed to this report.