Gaza's Hamas Announces Arrest of Military Commander's Killer

Gaza's Hamas Announces Arrest of Military Commander's Killer

The newly elected supreme leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, told reporters that the suspect had confessed to Faqha's killing. Haniyeh refused to identify the suspect, but said that Hamas had determined the gunman, apparently a local Palestinian, had acted on the orders of Israel and he expected the suspect would face execution.

In March this year, the Hamas militant was shot in the head four times at the entrance of his home in Gaza City, allegedly with a silenced gun.

Faqha, who was in charge of planning attacks against Israelis from the West Bank, was killed in his home in March, and since then Hamas has said Israel was behind the assassination.

The killing of Mazen Faqha in the heart of Hamas-controlled Gaza shocked the militant movement and raised fears of a fresh conflict with Israel.

'The occupier bears responsibility for (Fuqaha's death) because the confession (of the killer) is clear; the master who gave the orders was the occupier, the Zionist enemy, ' said Haniyeh, but he stopped short of threatening retaliation.

A second source said Hamas's military wing would decide "when and how vengeance (against Israel) will take place".

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Hamas announced last week that Haniyeh would serve as its new supreme leader following a lengthy and secretive internal election process. Hamas immediately imposed a lockdown in Gaza.

Israel has not commented on the shooting.

Faqha was one of more than 1,000 Palestinians released from Israeli jails in an exchange deal for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011.

The press conference was held in front of Faqha's house in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas is trying to rebrand itself as an Islamic national liberation movement, rather than a branch of the pan-Arab Muslim Brotherhood, which has been outlawed by neighboring Egypt.

It comes as the group is introducing changes to its organizational structure and policies toward Israel.

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