Hamas arrests Gaza man for commander’s slaying blamed on Israel


(JTA) — Hamas in Gaza arrested a suspect in the killing in March of one of its top commanders, whose death was blamed on Israel.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said on Thursday that his group has a suspect in custody in connection with the shooting of Mazan Fukha.

Haniyeh told reporters at a press conference in Gaza that the alleged killer had confessed and provided “all information and details of his crime,” the Ma’an news agency reported.

Haniyeh called the development a “historical moment” and a point of justice for a “heroic leader” of Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades — the armed wing of the Hamas movement — during the press conference. Fukha was a “symbol of resistance” in Palestine, he said. He did not mention whether Hamas believes the alleged assailant was connected to Israel.

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Fukha was shot with four bullets to the head in front of a residence in southwestern Gaza City. Hamas officials said at the time that the assassination was carried out with a silenced gun by assailants who were “collaborating” with Israel.

The Gaza Ministry of Interior also declared “a week of repentance” in April, promising security and legal protection to Palestinians who confessed to collaborating with Israel and turned themselves into intelligence authorities following Fukha’s death amid a crackdown on alleged collaborators.

Under Hamas’ rule in the Gaza Strip, collaboration with Israel typically results in a death sentence.

Separately, on Thursday Israel’s General Security Service, or Shin Bet, published on its website a statement revealing the arrest last month of seven members of the Islamic Movement – an organization that Israel outlawed and blacklisted as a terrorist group in 2015, partly over its ties to Hamas.

The men, including the group’s acting leader, Suleiman Agbaria, were carrying out the illegal work of the Islamic Movement secretly, the statement said.

Shin Bet’s monthly report for April lists 119 terrorist attacks by Palestinians on Israelis compared to 118 the previous month.

The April attacks resulted in the death of two victims, a British student and a soldier, whereas no one had died from terrorist attacks in March. Some 16 people were wounded in the attacks last month compared to six wounded the previous month.

Of the 119 attacks recorded last month, 26 were in Jerusalem. In February, Jerusalem saw fewer than 16 attacks.