A Hamas terrorist who was convicted of planning a suicide bombing that killed nine Israelis was killed in an apparent assassination at his Gaza home on Friday.
Mazen Faqha was shot dead by unknown assailants using a gun with a silencer. He had been sentenced to nine life terms by an Israeli court for organizing the August 4, 2002 suicide bombing on a bus at the Meron Junction, but was released in the October 2011 deal to free Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who had been kidnapped in 2006 and held hostage in Gaza.
Current and past Hamas leaders led Faqha’s funeral, at which they blamed Israel for the killing and promised revenge.
“If the enemy thinks that this assassination will change the power balance, then it should know the minds of [Hamas] will be able to retaliate in kind,” said Khalil al-Haya, a deputy of current Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar.
While it is true that Israel has been credited with taking out many Palestinian terrorists over the years, Sinwar himself was implicated in orchestrating the execution last year of Mahmoud Ishtiwi, a senior figure in the al-Qassam Brigades.
The Iran-backed Lebanese terror group Hezbollah also blamed Israel for Faqha’s killing. Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot said last week that Mustafa Badreddine, the Hezbollah commander in Syria who was killed in an explosion attributed to Israel last year, was actually killed by his own commanders. Though Eisenkot didn’t explain how he knew, he said that the killing “shows the level of [Hezbollah’s] viciousness.”