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Mazan Fukha
Hamas fumbles its way through assassination investigation
Analysis: Hamas's delayed launching of an investigation into the hit against their senior military official, its haphazard measures to ascertain the identity of the killers, their repeated blunders, their declarations of revenge against Israel are indicative of the utter state of confusion in which the terror organization is embroiled.
Almost two weeks have passed since the assassination of the senior Hamas military operative Mazan Fukha, one of the key pillars of the West Bank headquarters responsible for directing attacks against Israel, and Hamas is continuing to fumble its way through the investigation into the circumstances of his death.

 

 

Indeed, it appears that the terror organization has yet to unearth any leads whatsoever to the identity of the killers.

 

The investigation remains at the top of the organization's agenda and its security forces are working around the clock as they frantically search for clues. Yet they still don’t know whether those responsible and their collaborators—if indeed there were any—are still located in the Gaza Strip or have since departed.

 

Mazan Fukha
Mazan Fukha

 

Perhaps the only solace Hamas can squeeze out of this ignominious episode is that it has further fomented fear of surreptitious collaboration with Israel.

 

As far as investigators are aware, the events leading to Fukha’s death transpired thus: He arrived in the late hours in his vehicle to his home in the neighborhood of Tel al-Hawa with his wife and children.

 

When Fukah dropped them off as he drove his car to the building’s underground parking lot, that was the last time they saw him alive as his assassins were awaiting his arrival. Homing in on their target, they fired four shots at close range into his head and immediately fled the scene.

 

Fukha was murdered on Friday evening and in an unusual move, Hamas only put the strip on complete lockdown two-and-a-half days after the incident as part of the investigation.

 

It is unclear what caused the group to delay the lockdown for such an extensive period of time. However, it is possible to surmise that it stemmed from sheer confusion on the movement’s part.

 

The lockdown is still currently in place over the strip. During its first days, no one was permitted to leave or enter the area, regardless of whether the individual was Palestinian or a foreign national. Neither Red Cross or UN workers were exempt from the restrictions. Furthermore, fishermen are still barred from setting sail for the sea and tight supervision of the borders with Israel and Egypt is, both above and below ground, has been beefed up.

 

Only after a few days were the siege restrictions loosened by Hamas, after they managed to paint a most unhelpful picture of the profiles of the assassins or their collaborators. Despite their efforts, the sole conclusion that has been drawn is that they were between 15-45 years old.

 

In addition to the siege, the Palestinian Attorney General issued a gag order on all details pertaining to the investigation, but that did not prevent Hamas leaders from blaming, one after the other, Israel and vowing extreme reprisals.

 

 

Hamas’s ascribing of the deed to Israel is logical even if it is the product of mere reactional suspicion. But the truth is that not a single person there is holding the smoking gun connecting him to the hit.

 

The movement’s desperation is reflected in its haphazard attempts to launch an investigation. At the end of last week, the Interior Ministry in Gaza announced that the security apparatus are preparing to undertake a large scale operation against collaborators uncovered in Fukha’s liquidation.

 

Operations of this kind are rarely preceded with such warnings and likely stem from efforts to nudge potential murderers into executing an escape into Israel or Egypt via land or sea before exposing and capturing them.

 

Senior Hamas officials (Photo: EPA)
Senior Hamas officials (Photo: EPA)

 

Perhaps nothing demonstrated Hamas’s failure more than a notice publicized by the Ministry of Interior in Gaza urging any collaborators to turn themselves in, promising that if they did so they would receive legal security protection, and that their anonymity would be safeguarded.

 

But those who may be contemplating giving themselves up, would be wise to remember the ruthless manner in which Hamas displayed its draconian tendencies in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge, parading alleged collaborators with Israel through the streets and executing them in broad daylight before the eyes of Gaza’s men, women and children.

 

The string of mistakes and blunders, the improvised responses and public declarations, the late launching of the investigation, and the contradictions all combine to attest to the fact that Hamas remains in an utter state of confusion over the ongoing investigation.

 

Forced into this corner, it is not inconceivable that it will be forced to assign the blame to innocent people who will be compelled to admit to wrongdoing they did not commit in a desperate effort to project an image of strength, not least competence, to the people of Gaza, whether fraudulent or not. They are determined to convey the clear message that collaborators, imaginary or otherwise, will be dealt a devastating blow.

 

(Edited and translated by Alexander J. Apfel)

 

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