Score settled with man behind death of soldiers Avi Sasportas and Ilan Sa'adon. Hamas sources in Damascus issued an official statement on Friday accusing Israel of assassinating one of the movement's military commanders, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai nine days ago. Israel has yet to respond to the report.
The statement did not mention how the assassination was carried out. However, al-Mabhouh's brother Faiq says he was electrocuted to death. "The first results of a joint investigation by Hamas and the (United Arab) Emirates show he was killed by an electrical appliance that was held to his head," he told AFP by telephone.
Al-Mabhouh is behind the abduction and killing of IDF soldiers Avi Sasportas and Ilan Sa'adon during the First Intifada.
His body arrived in Damascus Thursday night after he was found dead on January 20. The 50-year-old was born in Jabalya, Gaza, and is considered on of the founders of Hamas' military wing, the Izz el-Din al-Qassam Brigades, and served as the movement's representative in Dubai.
The military wing announced that it has opened an investigation into the circumstances of his death. He was exiled out of the Palestinian territories in 1989, and has served as one of the military wing's top officials abroad.
Hamas politburo deputy chief Moussa Abu Marzouk said on Thursday, "I believe the Mossad agents and the Zionist enemy are behind the assassination."
Another Hamas official in Damascus, Izzat al-Rishq told Reuters al-Mabhouh was killed on January 20, and said he was an "important" member of Izz el-Din al-Qassam Brigades, and added: "I cannot reveal the circumstances. We are working with the authorities in the United Arab Emirates."
The Hamas movement was quick to mourn al-Mabhouh, and last Thursday, Hamas leaders including Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Interior Minister Fathi Hamed, visited his family's mourners' tent in the Jabalya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip.
Haniyeh told the mourners: "The al-Mabhouh family is one of the fighting families that made honorable sacrifices in the history of the Palestinian people."
He also noted that al-Mabhouh was one of the military wings founders and "the first to plan the act of abducting Zionist soldiers to exchange them for Palestinian prisoners."
The Hamas military wing also published a statement mourning al-Mabhouh, saying he was 'one of the founders of the Izz el-Din al Qassam Brigades, and he was responsible for the kidnapping of the two soldiers Avi Sasportas and Ilan Sa'adon at the start of the First Intifada. He planned many heroic operations against the occupation."
Body found 7 years later
Sasportas and Sa'adon were kidnapped and killed in 1989 by Hamas operatives on two separate occasions.
Sasportas was kidnapped in 1989 at the Hedaya junction while making his way home to Ashdod. He was kidnapped by unknown assailants, shot in the head, and his body was buried on the side of the road not far from where he was kidnapped.
Three months later, Sa'adon was captured at a junction near Kiryat Malachi. The day after searches began for Sa'adon's body, the body of Sasportas, who was considered missing, was discovered.
Sa'adon's body was found seven long years after the kidnapping. In 1997 the Palestinian Authority gave Israel a map with five possible places where they body may be found. It was eventually found buried eight meters deep under a road that was paved south of Rishon Lezion.
At the end of 2001, an IDF Golani force managed to arrest Abdel Rabbo abu Househ, a Hamas official who was involved in the kidnapping.
After the arrest, Sa'adon's sister Maza Huta told Ynet, "Our mother say Ilan's pictures on the television, and felt ill. It all came back to her, just like in 1989, when Ilan was kidnapped.
"It was a very difficult feeling, and the memories continue to haunt us. We will always remember Ilan, but today, it is particularly difficult."
Huta expressed hope that the defense establishment would manage to get its hands on the rest of the people behind her brother's kidnapping and death. "The terrorists have families in Israel, and one of them has six children in the Gaza Strip. I am sure they have come back, or will come back here, and I very much hope they find them and kill them, just as they did to my brother," she said.
Ali Waked, Reuters and AFP contributed to this report