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Senior Hamas official dies three weeks after suffering gunshot wound

Terror group says Imad al-Alami, a key link between Gaza and Iran, shot himself accidentally, but circumstances remain unclear

Senior Hamas leader Imad al-Alami. (Youtube)
Senior Hamas leader Imad al-Alami. (Youtube)

A senior Hamas official who suffered critical gunshot injuries three weeks ago in his home in the Gaza Strip was pronounced dead on Tuesday, with a cloud of uncertainty still surrounding the incident.

Imad al-Alami, who is a key link between Gaza and Tehran, was shot in the head on January 9, with the terror group’s spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum saying at the time that he had accidentally discharged his own weapon while inspecting it.

Another Hamas spokesperson, Hazem Qasem, announced al-Alami’s death Tuesday morning in remarks to Gazan media in Shifa hospital. His funeral was scheduled for later Tuesday in Gaza, with a large turnout expected.

The group hasn’t revealed details on the shooting, and it remains unclear whether al-Alami was a target for assassination, whether he committed suicide due to severe illness, or if the shooting was indeed accidental.

Al-Alami, also known as Abu Hamam, was born in Gaza in 1956. He was one of the founders of Hamas, which controls the Strip, and served as the terror group’s main representative in Tehran for many years before moving to Damascus in 2008. Hamas has said Iran is currently its leading military backer.

At the start of the Syrian civil war in 2012, he was the last Hamas leader to leave Damascus and return to Gaza, where he was quickly elected deputy Hamas leader, a capacity in which he served until last year’s elections.

Members of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, take part in a rally in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, on December 5, 2017. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

He was unique among senior Hamas leaders for staying out of the press. He did not take part in press conferences, nor was he active on any social media platform.

Al-Alami, who was a mechanical engineer by training, suffered serious leg injuries during the Israel-Gaza war in the summer of 2014, in circumstances that are not totally clear.

According to one claim, he was hurt when an elevator collapsed inside a tunnel in which senior Hamas members were hiding. Another rumor said he was injured by gunfire during a battle between Hamas activists. He was treated in Turkey.

Al-Alami had been deported from Gaza in 1991 after being arrested by Israeli security forces for carrying out terror activities for Hamas.

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