Gunmen kill Hamas official in Gaza
GAZA CITY - Gunmen in the Gaza Strip on Friday shot dead a Hamas official who was freed by Israel in a 2011 prisoner swap, the interior ministry in the Palestinian enclave said.
Iyad al-Bozum, an interior ministry spokesman in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, said that gunmen opened fire on Faqha in the Tell al-Hama neighbourhood.
"An investigation has been launched," he said, giving no further details.
Police spokesman Ayman al-Batniji said Faqha had "four bullets in his head" and said Israel and its "collaborators" were responsible for the killing.
"We know how to respond to this crime," he added.
Faqha was a senior Hamas official in the Israeli-occupied West Bank but after his release Israel transferred him to Gaza.
The Israeli army refused to comment. But Khalil al-Haya, a senior Hamas official in Gaza, said: "This assassination does not serve anybody but the occupiers (Israel), it is of no interest to the other parties."
- Revenge -
Thousands of Hamas supporters on Saturday called for "revenge" during the Gaza funeral of Mazen Faqha.
"Revenge, revenge!" called participants at the procession.
Hamas-nominated attorney general Ismail Jaber on Saturday joined other Hamas officials in blaming Israel for the killing.
"This assassination has the clear marks of Mossad," he said, referring to the Jewish state's spy agency.
Reports in Israeli media said Faqha was responsible for cells of Hamas's military wing - the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades - in the West Bank, illegally occupied by Israel.
Israel arrested Faqha and sentenced him to prison over suicide attacks that killed hundreds during the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, between 2000 and 2005.
He was released in 2011 along with more than 1,000 other Palestinians in exchange for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier Hamas had detained for five years, and transferred to Gaza.
Prime minister Ismail Haniyeh and Yahya Sinwar, the new leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, headed the procession from the Shifa morgue to the Omari mosque.
Khalil al-Haya, a deputy to Sinwar, promised retaliation.
"If the enemy thinks that this assassination will change the power balance, then it should know the minds of Qassam will be able to retaliate in kind," he said.
Hamas has ruled the Gaza Strip for 10 years.