Hamas blames Mossad for killing Kamal Ghanaja, deputy of Hamas arms smuggler Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, who was killed in Dubai in 2010 • Syrian opposition group accuses Assad regime of torturing Ghanaja to death • Ehud Barak: Ghanaja "probably wasn't the most righteous of people."
News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff
Kamal Hussein Ghanaja has met his untimely end. Hamas vows revenge.
Photo credit: Facebook
Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. [Archive]
Photo credit: AFP
Image of Mabhouh (circled) arriving at the Dubai airport before his assassination. [Archive]
Photo credit: CCTV
Mabhouh as he heads to his hotel room, just before the assassination. [Archive]
Photo credit: Youtube
A senior member of Hamas' military wing, Kamal Hussein Ghanaja, was assassinated in Damascus, most likely on Tuesday, according to reports from Arab media outlets Wednesday. Ghanaja, also known as Nizar Abu Mujahed, was, according to one report, shot to death in his apartment in the Syrian capital by unidentified assailants, who then burned the apartment.
According to Al-Mayadeen (the Iran-affiliated pan-Arabic satellite television channel launched in Lebanon on June 11), Ghanaja was a deputy for former top Hamas military commander, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, who was assassinated in his Dubai hotel room in 2010.
Mabhouh's death was widely attributed to Israel's Mossad, which never confirmed its involvement, and no one was ever charged with killing him. Mabhouh was Hamas' military liaison with Iran, and was in charge of smuggling weapons from the Islamic republic into the Gaza Strip.
No one has claimed responsibility thus far for killing Ghanaja, but according to AFP a senior official said Hamas believed the Mossad was behind the attack, and that the assailants also took documents from his apartment.
“A group of people entered his home in Qudsaya ... where he was liquidated,” the official said. “According to our information, Mossad was behind the assassination.”
A Hamas source in Gaza said "there were marks of torture" on Ghanaja's body, the Palestinian Maan news agency reported.
Izzat Risheq, a senior Hamas leader, wrote on his Facebook page that Hamas was working to identify the assassin and that Ghanaja's blood "shall not be shed in vain." He had no details on how Ghanaja died.
After reports of Ghanaja's death started circulating, former Deputy Director of the Israel Security Agency [Shabak] and current Kadima MK Israel Hasson said he did not shed a tear over the death of the Hamas leader. According to Hasson, Ghanaja had replaced al-Mabhouh in Hamas' weapons smuggling operation, after al-Mabhouh was assassinated in Dubai two and a half years earlier. Hasson told Israel Radio on Thursday that if anyone thinks Israel is behind Ghanaja's assassination, despite the turmoil currently taking place in Syria, it will only make him (Hasson) sleep better. Hasson warned that Israel has growing concerns that due to the current state in Syria, Hamas might procure weapons, including chemical weapons, that could change the balance of power in the region.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak refrained from discussing the matter at length Thursday morning, telling Israel Radio that he doesn't know a lot about Ghanaja, "but according to reports he probably wasn't the most righteous of people."
"He was not really personally familiar (to me). According to all the background published, he was no saint and I don't want to add anything or comment about this incident," Barak told Army Radio in a separate interview.
A Syrian opposition group, according to Israel Radio, blamed the Syrian Alawite regime on Wednesday night for killing Ghanaja in order to send a message to the Sunni Hamas, which reportedly turned its back on the regime due to its brutal and violent repression of the 16-month-old popular uprising in Syria. In a statement the group said that militiamen loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime tortured Ghanaja to death and then burned his apartment in order to cover their tracks.
The Syrian government has yet to respond to news of Ghanaja's death.
Syria has long allowed Hamas to operate offices in Damascus, but in recent months, the Palestinian terrorist group has quietly moved most of its operations elsewhere as an uprising that is spiraling into civil war has rocked the country.
The situation in neighboring Syria has been a key concern for Israel, especially the issue of Syrian army chemical weapons depots and missiles, which Israel fears could fall into the hands of Hezbollah or other rogue groups.