Hamas Sentences Three Palestinians to Death Over Top Commander's Assassination

Mazen Fuqaha was gunned down at the end of March in what Hamas claims to be an Israeli hit

Members of Hamas' armed wing take part in the funeral of Mazen Fuqaha in Gaza City, March 25, 2017.
MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS

A Gaza military court sentenced to death three people on Sunday for their involvement in the assassination of top Hamas official Mazen Fuqaha, blamed on Israel by Hamas.

The death-sentence verdict was expected, and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh announced since their arrest had been revealed that they would be executed.

On Tuesday, Hamas held a press conference in which it announced that three Palestinians had admitted their involvement on behalf of Israel in Fuqaha's assassination.

The commander of Hamas' internal security forces, Tawfiq Abu Naim, said that the three suspects, two Gazans and one resident of the West Bank, admitted to receiving instructions from Israel's intelligence apparatus to carry out the assassination. He added that the agent who carried out the assassination was carefully chosen by Israel in order to deflect attention from Israel's own responsibility in the hit.

Abu Naim added that the three suspects admitted to having gathered information on activists in the military arm of Hamas. "Israel holds responsibility for the assassination, in all its details. This is an action that marks a new stage in dealing with Israel for the Palestinian security apparatus," he said.

Fuqaha was a prominent member of Hamas’ military wing in the northern West Bank, which took part of suicide attacks in which hundreds of Israelis were killed during the second intifada between 2000 and 2005. He was gunned down in the southern Gaza City neighborhood of Tel al-Hawa at the end of March, according to the Gazan Interior Ministry.

Fuqha was sentenced to life in prison and an additional 50 years for planning a suicide bombing on a bus in northern Israel in 2002, where nine Israelis were killed. But in 2011, Fuqaha was released from prison as part of a prisoner exchange deal to free Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.