Hamas pins top operative’s slaying on Israel

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Hamas blamed Israel for the assassination of a top Hamas commander in a Dubai hotel room.

The body of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was discovered Jan. 20 in a luxury hotel. Though it looked like he had died of a heart attack, blood samples reportedly showed poison in his body.

Hamas announced last Friday that it blamed Israel for his death.

Al-Mabhouh was the official responsible for arranging arms supplies from Iran to Gaza, and was a founder of the Hamas military wing, Izzadin Kassam. He also was involved in the kidnappings and murders of two Israeli soldiers, Avi Sasportas and Ilan Sa’adon, in 1989.

Hamas leaders claimed that an alleged Israeli assassination team entered Dubai using forged passports as part of the entourage of Israeli Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau, who visited the United Arab Emirates for a regional conference.

Other reports say that al-Mabhouh died from a massive electric shock administered to the head, and that doctors found evidence of strangulation.

Israel has not taken responsibility for al-Mabhouh’s murder, and Landau has denied his entourage had anything to do with the alleged terrorist’s death.

“My entourage went to an international conference," he said. "What we are witnessing is the wild eastern imagination going hand-in-hand with Palestinian anger about an Israeli flag flying over Abu Dhabi.”

Mahmoud Zahar, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, in an interview with Al-Jazeera accused Israel of “moving the battlefield abroad.” Hamas also accused Israel of "breaking the rules of the game" by attacking a Hamas operative in a foreign country and has threatened to seek revenge with attacks on Israeli targets abroad.

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal also vowed to avenge Mabhouh’s death, the Jerusalem Post reported.

“We will avenge the blood of this giant. If today you [Israelis] are happy about his death, your joy will be short-lived because we will avenge his blessed blood," Mashaal reportedly said at al-Mabhouh’s funeral.

"If you think that we will abandon the option of resistance, you are under an illusion. Our resistance won’t be weakened by settlements, occupation, killings, walls or starvation.”

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