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Hamas: Israel kills top operative in Dubai

 Hamas members carry the coffin of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, one of the founders of Hamas' military wing during his funeral procession at the Palestinian re...

Mideast Syria Israel Hamas

Hamas members carry the coffin of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, one of the founders of Hamas' military wing during his funeral procession at the Palestinian re...

A senior Hamas commander was assassinated last week in a Dubai hotel room by electrocution, the Palestinian militant group said Friday. It accused Israeli agents of killing him and vowed avenge his death.
Hamas said Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was one of the founders of the group's military wing that has been responsible for attacks and suicide bombings targeting Israelis since the 1980s.
Dubai's government confirmed al-Mabhouh was found dead in a hotel room on Jan. 20, a day after entering the Gulf city. It said in a statement that initial investigations show the crime was likely committed by a "professional criminal gang," and that the suspects left the country before the body was discovered.
Most of the suspects held European passports, the statement said.
Hamas' top leader, Khaled Mashaal, accused Israel of being behind al-Mabhouh's death, and pledged to hit back.
"We will retaliate for the blood of this man who fought you (Israel) for 30 years, from one battle to the next, and was arming the resistance and supporting it night and day," Mashaal said while standing next to al-Mabhouh's coffin at his funeral in Syria.
"You (Israelis) have hurt us with his killing, but it is an ongoing war between us," he said. "This is an open war."
Israel's government had no immediate comment.
The few details that emerged Friday about al-Mabhouh's death were somewhat conflicting.
Talal Nassar, an official in Hamas' media office in Damascus, said al-Mabhouh had been "poisoned and electrocuted in his hotel room in Dubai." He did not elaborate.
Al-Mabhouh's brother, Hussein, 49, who lives in the Jebaliya refugee camp in Gaza, said his brother "died by electric shock and suffocation with a piece of cloth." He said that his brother had been on a mission for Hamas when he was killed.
Hussein al-Mabhouh added that his brother had survived two Israeli assassination attempts, including an attempt six months ago to poison him in Beirut that left him unconscious for 30 hours.
"It was expected that the Mossad would try to kill him," he told The AP, referring to Israel's external intelligence agency.
Originally from the Gaza Strip, al-Mabhouh lived in Syria and was passing through Dubai when he was killed late Jan. 19 or early Jan. 20, said Izzat Rashaq, a top member of Hamas' exiled leadership in Damascus.
Rashaq told The Associated Press that Hamas delayed the announcement about al-Mabhouh's death because it was trying to "reach the Israeli agents who implemented this operation."
Al-Mabhouh was buried Friday at the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, near Damascus. More than 2,000 Palestinians attended the funeral.
The coffin was wrapped in a green Hamas flag and a portrait of al-Mabhouh was placed at the entrance to the mosque with the words: "Your fingerprints are everywhere ... we promise to continue in your path."
A Hamas statement said al-Mabhouh was involved in the kidnapping and killing of two Israeli soldiers in 1989 and that he was still playing a "continuous role in supporting his brothers in the resistance inside the occupied homeland" at the time of his death.
Hamas rules Gaza but has leaders and operatives based in Syria and elsewhere.
The group's members abroad have been targeted in the past. The leader of its Damascus-based politburo, Khaled Mashaal, survived an Israeli assassination attempt in Amman, Jordan, in 1997. Last month, two Hamas men were killed in a mysterious blast in Beirut. Hamas said at the time that Israel was an obvious suspect but stopped short of openly accusing Israel of the killings.
The Mossad never openly discusses its operations and Israel's government typically does not comment on incidents in which the Mossad's involvement is suspected.
Israel is also suspected of being behind the assassination of a senior military commander from the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah in Damascus in 2008.
Dubai has for years been known as a low-risk hideaway for disgraced politicians and deposed foreign leaders, but that image was shattered last March, when Chechnya's Sulim Yamadayev _ a former rebel in the republic's long conflict with Russia who switched sides but then fell out with the territory's pro-Moscow leader _ was shot dead in a Dubai underground parking lot.
The Emirates backs Hamas' rival, the West Bank-based Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, but does not list the militant group as a terrorist organization. Emirati officials have met several times with Hamas representatives in the capital Abu Dhabi.
Associated Press Writers Matti Friedman in Jerusalem, Mohammed Daraghmeh in Ramallah, West Bank, Rizek Abdel Jawad in Gaza, Zeina Karam in Beirut and Barbara Surk in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.

Updated : 2021-07-29 02:06 GMT+08:00