GAZA STRIP – Hamas, the Palestinian faction ruling the Gaza Strip, blamed Israel for the death of Mahmoud Abdel Rauf al-Mabhouh, 50, who died on Jan. 20 in Dubai.
"We in Hamas hold the Zionist enemy responsible for the criminal assassination of our brother, and we pledge to Allah and to the blood of the martyrs and to our people to continue his path of jihad [“holy” war] and martyrdom…[we will] retaliate for this Zionist crime at the appropriate moment,” a statement on the group’s Web site read.
Mabhouh, one of the founders of Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, was born in Jabaliya in northern Gaza. He had been living in Syria since 1989.
One day after arriving in Dubai, Mabhouh was found dead in his hotel room, according to one Palestinian source quoted by Reuters.
"It seems that an autopsy was ordered and found traces of poison in his body," the source said, adding that he had been ill and "Hamas controls the information on this."
"The Israelis have a long memory for sure, but one cannot draw conclusions yet," a Syrian diplomat in Damascus told Reuters. "It might be easier for the Israelis to kill him in Dubai than in Damascus," he said.
Throughout the 1980s, Mabhouh masterminded numerous terror attacks on Israelis, including the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers, Ilan Sa’adon and Avi Sasportas, in 1989, who were later executed.
According to Hamas, Mabhouh continued to support “his brothers in the resistance inside the occupied homeland” from Dubai.
“He spent his life being hounded by the Zionist occupier until he succeeded in leaving the Gaza Strip. Our brother has been a target for the occupier ever since his participation in the kidnapping operation against the two Zionist soldiers and for his role and support for the resistance,” Hamas stated.