By Miriam Elman
(Re-published from Legal Insurrection | March 26, 2017) Mazen Faqha was a Hamas official responsible for organizing a 2002 suicide bombing attack in Israel.
Found guilty and given a life sentence for the crime that killed nine people and injured scores more, he was among the over 1000 terrorists—many of them also with blood on their hands and serving life sentences—released in 2011 as part of the prisoner exchange to free hostage IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
Faqha was deported to Gaza.
From there, according to Israeli officials, he became a “key planner” in setting up Hamas terror cells in the West Bank, directing them as they organized and launched deadly terror attacks against Israelis.
On Friday March 24th, 38-year-old Faqha was assassinated by assailants using silencers, The Times of Israel reports:
Below I review the fallout from the killing of Mazen Faqha …
Thousands of militants and civilians in Gaza and the West Bank turned out for his funeral processions, and a swirl of accusations by various Palestinian terror groups, which are blaming Israel for “waging a clandestine war” and are now threatening retribution.
Early Sunday morning (EST), Israeli media reported that the IDF was being put on high alert in expectation of Hamas retaliation. I begin with Faqha’s victims.
August 2002 Egged Bus Bombing
Born and raised in the West Bank village of Toubas, Mazen Faqha was a senior Hamas commander in the Qassam Brigades (the armed wing of Hamas), which carried out many suicide bombings during the bloody second intifada.
Faqha had a hand in a number of these attacks, but he was sentenced in 2003 for planning a suicide bombing on a civilian passenger bus near Safed in the north of Israel the prior summer.
Here’s a summary of the terror attack from Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, along with the names and photographs of those killed.
For his crime, Faqha received nine life sentences—one for each person he killed. But he was jailed for only 8 years, when he was released in 2011 for IDF soldier Shalit, who by then had been held captive for 5 years in Gaza.
Under the conditions of his release, Faqha was supposed to refrain from engagement in terror or incitement to violence. In fact, he returned to terror activities, resuming a leadership position in the Qassam Brigades.
Thousands Attend the Funeral of a Slain Hamas Terrorist
Yesterday, thousands of Hamas supporters called for “revenge” during Faqha’s funeral in Jabalia, northern Gaza. The top brass of Hamas reportedly delivered fiery eulogies. Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Yahya Sinwar, the new leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, headed the procession from Gaza City’s al-Shifa Hospital, where Faqha’s body was initially taken, to the al-Omari mosque, and from there to Sheikh Radwan cemetery.
Here’s some images from the funeral, where even children were spectators. Many more images can be found on the Internet. It’s also important to note that the funeral march included members and leaders from Gaza’s various political factions and armed groups, and not only Hamas supporters. Although more subdued, in the West Bank hundreds of Palestinians reportedly also marched to Faqha’s childhood home in the small village of Toubas. There, they viewed the Gaza funeral on TV.
Did Israel Assassinate Mazen Faqha?
As of this writing, Israeli officials haven’t commented on Faqha’s killing.
In fact, as noted by Avi Issacharoff for The Times of Israel, there’s “no firm evidence” of Israeli involvement.
But multiple terror groups—including Hamas, Hezbollah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and Islamic Jihad—stated that “Zionist fingerprints” were evident in the killing which had “clear marks of Mossad [Israel’s spy agency]” …
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