The military wing of Hamas, Al-Qassam Brigades, laid the blame officially on Israel yesterday for the assassination of one of its senior members, Anadolu has reported. Unknown gunmen shot Mazen Fuqaha at point blank range, killing him as he parked his car.
Although he was originally from the occupied West Bank, Fuqaha was released as part of the prisoner swap deal agreed with the Israelis in 2011 on condition that he was expelled to the Gaza Strip.
Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman hinted that Israel was not responsible for the murder. His remarks, insisted Al-Qassam spokesman Abu Obaida, reflect how much Israel is afraid and pressured. "We put the full blame and responsibility on Israel for this crime." He noted that Israel wanted to "shuffle the cards" in the Palestinian arena after unconfirmed claims spread in Gaza that the assassination was a result of internal clashes within Hamas.
A spokesman for the movement, Fawzi Barhoum, repeated that Hamas holds Israel fully responsible for the killing of Fuqaha. "Lieberman's comment," he insisted, "is an attempt by Israel to evade the consequences."
Since the assassination on 24 March, the Palestinian security services have launched a campaign to locate the assassins and other collaborators with Israel. The Public Prosecutor in Gaza has imposed a media gag on the ongoing investigation until an official announcement about the findings, which is expected before the end of April.