Report: Hamas Official in Damascus Was Killed in Accident, Not Assassination

Initial reports blamed Mossad for the death of Kamel Ranaja; anonymous Hamas source says he was not linked to the organization's military wing or to Mahmoud al-Mabhouh who was assassinated in Dubai.

Hamas activist Kamel Ranaja, whose body was found last week in his Damascus apartment, was not assassinated, but was killed in an accident, a senior official in Hamas now claims.

According to Al-Hayat daily in London, citing an anonymous source with Hamas, Ranaja was killed as a result of a faulty generator in his apartment.

The report says Ranaja arrived to his home when the electricity was down, what is considered very common in Syria and in the capital Damascus. Ranaja tried activating the generator in his attic room. Since the attic was dark, Ranaja used a lighter, but a flammable substance, perhaps gasoline, caught fire.

Ranaja was injured while attempting to put out the fire, while the generator was emitting a toxic gas. According to the source, Ranaja wasn't able to recuperate or even to reach the window and was left to be choked to death in his home.

This version of the story states Ranaja was not linked to the military wing of Hamas or to Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a top Hamas official who was assassinated in Dubai over two years ago, but used to raise donations for Hamas among other civilian jobs.

The source said that Ranaja had strong ties with the Syrian regime and that the option he was killed by Assad's militias seems unlikely. The official also said that attributing the Mabhouh assassination to the Israeli Mossad is used by the latter for propaganda to amplify its abilities.

However, other Palestinian sources advise not to fully trust this report, given that the initial report stated that the body had brutal signs of violence.

As it seems, Hamas is interested in lowering its profile in an effort not to confront Assad.

In initial reports, sources within Hamas blamed Israeli Mossad for Ranaja's death, stating that Ranaja was a former deputy of Mabhouh. Izzat a-Rashak, a member in the Hamas political bureau, announced the killing on Facebook, and stated that Hamas is investigating the killing in order to find out who was behind it.

When asked by Army Radio to comment on the reported killing, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak refused to deny or confirm Israeli involvement in the incident, only saying: "According to the background published [about], he wasn't one of the righteous men of the generation." 

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