Hamas blames Israeli spy agency for assassination of senior member

Palestinians attend the funeral of Mazen Fuqaha, a senior Hamas member, in Gaza City on Saturday. (Reuters)
Updated 25 March 2017

Hamas blames Israeli spy agency for assassination of senior member

GAZA: A senior Hamas militant was shot dead near his home in the Gaza Strip on Friday, the group said, blaming Israel for the killing.
An Israeli military spokeswoman refused to comment on the incident in the Hamas-run Palestinian coastal enclave.
Mazen Fuqaha, a fighter from the occupied West Bank whom Israel released in a prisoner swap in 2011 and exiled to the Gaza Strip, was shot several times, said Hamas police.
Another senior Hamas official, Izzat El-Reshiq, said the killers used silencers.
“Hamas and its (military wing) hold (Israel) and its collaborators responsible for this despicable crime... (Israel) knows that the blood of fighters is not spilled in vain and Hamas will know how to act,” the group said in a statement.
Khalil Al-Haya, Hamas’s deputy chief in the Gaza Strip, said only Israel would have had something to gain from the death.
“If the enemy thinks that this assassination will change the power balance, then it should know the minds of Qassam will be able to retaliate in kind,” he said.
Thousands of Hamas supporters called for “revenge” during the funeral of Fuqaha.
“Revenge, revenge!” called participants at the procession.
Ismail Jaber, Hamas-nominated attorney general, said: “This assassination has the clear marks of Mossad,” he said, referring to the Jewish state’s spy agency.
Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Yahya Sinwar, the new leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, headed the procession from the Shifa morgue to the Omari mosque.
Fuqaha, 38, was one of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners that Israel released in exchange for soldier Gilad Shalit whom Gaza militants had held captive in the coastal enclave after abducting him in a cross-border raid in 2006.
Israel jailed Fuqaha in 2003 for planning attacks against Israelis and sentenced him to nine life terms. Israeli media said that after his release while in exile in Gaza, he continued to plan attacks by West Bank militants.
Hamas has ruled the Gaza Strip for 10 years.
Cross-border violence between Gaza militants and Israel has largely died down since a 2014 war in which militants launched thousands of rockets into Israel.
According to Gaza health officials, more than 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed in 50 days of fighting. Israel put its dead at 67 soldiers and six civilians.
Militants from small radical groups have continued to fire an occasional rocket into Israel from Gaza despite Hamas’ efforts to rein them in but Israel says it holds Hamas responsible and responds with airstrikes and tank fire.
Hamas has recently said it is becoming impatient with Israel’s bombing of its facilities and has hinted that it may end the current state of relative calm.
Meanwhile, surrounded by militant training sites on uprooted Jewish settlement lands, the first movie set in the Gaza Strip is growing, depicting the history-rich, volatile alleyways of Jerusalem’s Old City.
The set is the latest effort by Al-Aqsa channel, run by Hamas, to kick-start its drama production in the territory and release another series slated to air in the month of Ramadan.
In Gaza, filming footage of Jerusalem and other central locations from the conflict is a challenge.
Gaza’s population of about 2 million live in mostly cramped conditions in the coastal sandy territory compared to the rugged mountain terrain of the West Bank, so crews have struggled to film the twisting ancient alleyways of Jerusalem’s Old City. And that is how the idea to create a set depicting Jerusalem was born.
The fate of Jerusalem is an emotional issue at the heart of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel captured east Jerusalem, home to the Old City with its holy sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, in the 1967 war. Palestinians want the territory for their future state.

Rocket hits site of foreign oil firms in Iraq’s Basra

Updated 2 min 25 sec ago

Rocket hits site of foreign oil firms in Iraq’s Basra

  • The rocket hit Burjeisa residential and operations headquarters west of Basra
  • Police said the rocket was a short-range Katyusha missile

BASRA: A rocket landed at the headquarters for several global major oil companies, including US giant ExxonMobil, near Iraq’s southern city of Basra early on Wednesday, wounding two Iraqi workers, police said.

The rocket hit the Burjesia residential and operations headquarters west of the city, they said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

A security source said Exxon was preparing to evacuate some 20 foreign staff immediately.

Other companies operating at the site include Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Italian Eni SpA, oil officials said.

Police said the rocket was a short-range Katyusha missile that landed 100 meters from the section of the site used as a residence and operations center by Exxon.

Burjesia is near the Zubair oilfield operated by Eni.

Exxon evacuated staff last month after the United States cited unspecified threats from Iran for a decision to take hundreds of diplomatic staff out of Iraq.

Exxon had begun returning staff to Iraq, however, before Wednesday’s incident.