Senior Hamas Terror Planner Mazen Faqha Assassinated in Gaza

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:

Faqha was shot dead near his home in Tel el-Hawa, a neighborhood in southwestern Gaza City, by [unknown] assailants using a weapon equipped with a silencer. He was hit by four bullets to the head … Hamas said Israel was to blame and vowed revenge … The identity and motive of the assailants was not immediately clear. There was no official comment from Israel on his killing.”

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 retaliationI 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. 

Nine people were killed and some 50 wounded in a suicide bombing of Egged bus No. 361 traveling from Haifa to Safed at the Meron junction in northern Israel shortly before 9:00 Sunday morning. There were many IDF soldiers on the bus, which exploded as it was traveling near the entrance to the burial site of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai, frequently visited by Jewish worshippers. The blast blew off the roof of the bus, which then burst into flames, killing or wounding nearly everyone inside, witnesses said. Among those killed were twere three soldiers, four Israeli civilians and two Philippine women. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. Overnight on Sunday, IDF troops captured Hamas commander Mazan Fukha, responsible for dispatching the suicide bomber, in the West Bank town of Tubas together with two of his deputies.”

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 eulogiesHamas 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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