Murder of Hamas commander in Dubai may enlarge confrontation with Israel
By Emad Drimly, Saud Abu Ramadan
GAZA, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) — Hamas officials as well as observers expected on Saturday that the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a senior Islamic Hamas movement commander in Dubai on Jan. 20, ” would sooner or later move the battle between Hamas and Israel outside the Palestinian territories.”
They said the ambiguous assassination of al-Mabhouh might be “a new turn” in the military confrontation between Hamas and Israel, that could develop to mutual avenge attacks in some Arab and foreign countries. Hamas has directly accused the Israeli Mosad ( foreign intelligence) for being behind his death.
Observers close to Hamas said that the movement hasn’t yet expressed full commitment to a declared ceasefire with Israel after last winter’s “Cast Lead” Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip, adding that al-Mabhouh’s murder in Dubai “would oblige Hamas to respond to his killing.”
Mustafa al-Sawaf, a Gaza-based political analyst, specialized in Hamas affairs expected that “Hamas response to the killing of al-Mabhouh, who has a high-ranking position in Hamas armed wing, would be equal to an assassination of a senior Israeli leader.”
“Although Hamas response to the killing of al-Mabhouh would be linked to certain political and military considerations in the field, but I still believe that the movement would keep the demand of revenge in order to re-account itself among its supporters,” said al-Sawaf.
He added that the assassination’s circumstances and the place where it occurred “would be a justification to open a new field of confrontation and adopt a new strategy of attacking Israeli targets abroad, which will be contrary to its strategy that focuses on fighting Israel in the Palestinian territories.”
Al-Sawaf explained that this shows Israel is able to infiltrate the security of the Arab countries by targeting Hamas leaders who live abroad. “Israel sends a message to Hamas that it can carry out more assassinations abroad against Hamas prisoners who will be released after the prisoners swap is finalized.”
Hamas has deliberately calmed down the confrontation with Israel by stopping homemade rocket attacks from Gaza at southern Israel after the end of January 2009 Israeli war on Gaza, which has left more than 1,440 people killed and 5,000 wounded.
Hamas officials said that al-Mabhouh, who was killed by an electric shock in Dubai, is one of the founders of Izzedien al- Qassam Brigades, Hamas armed wing in the Gaza Strip in 1988. Since then, al-Mabhouh has been living in Syria.
When he arrived in Dubai, a day before he was killed, he was holding a fake Syrian passport. Leaders in Hamas said that he was in charge of arming Hamas movement abroad over the past several years.
Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal’s calls for immediate revenge hours after al-Mabhouh was killed shows the importance of the man, where Hamas strongman in Gaza Mahmoud al-Zahar had on Saturday warned Israel of conveying the battle outside the Palestinian territories.
“We have maintained that the confrontation between us and the Israeli enemy be in the occupied land,” said Zahar. “Israel wants to change the rules of the game and to open the international field for battles so it will be responsible for this,” Zahar told reporters during a visit to a Jordanian-run hospital in Gaza.
He also said that “Hamas can reach its targets in any place.” However, he emphasized that Hamas “is keeping the game inside the occupied Palestinian land,” where he called on Arab states that have ties with Israel “to assess and rearrange these relations over the crimes that Israel commits.”
Meanwhile, Abu Obeida, spokesman of al-Qassam Brigades said that “when Hamas threatens to revenge, it means what it says,” adding that “the movement will revenge for the blood of the leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. The Zionist enemy will never escape from the punishment.”
The spokesman declined to say when and where the response will be, but said “the gun-battle with the occupation is opened and complicated. The resistance will find the proper time and place for the response,” adding “This response will not contradict with the current political strategy of the movement.”
However, Naji Shurab, the political science teacher at the Gaza- based al-Azhar University ruled out that Hamas would immediately respond to the killing of al-Mabhouh, adding “any Hamas response would be tied to delicate political and regional considerations.”
“The killing of al-Mabhouh was an Israeli message to Hamas to pressure on the movement to drag it to the circle of escalation to justify another large-scale military operation in the Gaza Strip,” said Shurab.