A senior Hamas
operative has been assassinated in his Damascus
apartment, the Islamist terror group announced Wednesday evening.
Hamas said it was launching an investigation to discover who is behind the "despicable crime."
There was no word about the manner in which Kamal Ranaja, known as Nizzar Abu-Mujhad, met his death.
Shortly after his death was announced, the new pan-Arabic television station Al-Mayadeen reported that he used to serve as aide to Mahmoud al-Mabhouh,
a senior Hamas member who took part in several terror attacks and was also involved in kidnapping and killing IDF soldiers. Mabhouh was assassinated in Dubai in 2010. The deed was laid at the door of Mossad, which never confirmed or denied the accusation.
Mabhouh was responsible for smuggling weapons into the Gaza Strip from Iran.
Alleged Mabhouh assassins in Dubai in 2010 (Archive photo: Reuters)
The Syrian opposition claimed President Bashar Assad's regime was responsible for Ranaja's assassination.
One opposition activist, a former journalist, said Assad's regime ordered the hit. She claimed Ranaja was tortured before he was killed. According to her, the hit was a message to Hamas, which turned its back on Assad following the violent crackdown on the opposition.
In recent years, Arab officials have blamed Israel for a number of deaths of terrorists outside the country, such as the February 2008 assassination of Imad Mugniyeh
– an operations commander for Hizbullah. Mugniyeh is the most senior terrorist Israel has been accused of killing since the death of Hizbullah head Abbas Musawi in the early 1990s.
Mugniyeh was assassinated in Damascus in 2008. (Photo: Reuters)
The news of Rajana's assassination comes on the heels of former Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades commander Ibrahim Hamed's
for 46 counts of murder earlier Wednesday.
Hamed was arrested in 2006 and convicted of direct involvement in a number of terror attacks that left at least 46 Israelis dead and hundreds wounded.