News / Middle East

Israel: Slain Hamas Commander Was Top Weapons Smuggler

The killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai prompts threats from Hamas, increases tension between Israel and the Palestinians and could hamper efforts to free a captive Israeli soldier

Robert Berger

Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas are trading accusations and threats after the killing of a top Hamas commander in the United Arab Emirates. 

Israeli officials say a Hamas commander who was found dead in the Persian Gulf city state of Dubai played a central role in smuggling weapons from Iran to Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.  But officials stopped short of confirming Hamas allegations that Israel's Mossad spy agency assassinated the commander, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.

Hamas released news of the alleged assassination on Friday, though the incident occurred nine days earlier.  The group admitted that al-Mabhouh had played a key role in supplying weapons and money to his native Gaza from his base in Syria.  Hamas, which rules Gaza, promised revenge for the killing at the appropriate time and place.

According to various Palestinian accounts, al-Mabhouh was poisoned, electrocuted or strangled by Israeli agents.  Hamas suggested the assassins accompanied Israeli Cabinet Minister Uzi Landau, who visited the United Arab Emirates several days before the killing.

But at Israel's weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Landau said that is nonsense.

He said he was in Abu Dhabi for an international conference, and the Hamas claims that he was accompanied by Mossad agents come from a "wild Oriental imagination."

Cabinet Minister Daniel Hershkowitz said regardless of what happened in Dubai, terrorists should beware.

He said "anyone who raises a hand against the Jews must know that he is risking his own life."

Another minister referred to an old Jewish adage, that if your enemy comes to kill you, kill him first.  

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