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Gunmen Kill Senior Hamas Official in Gaza | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A Palestinian Hamas security officer stands guard in Gaza, on October 9, 2014. (Mohammed Abed/AFP)

Gunmen in the Gaza Strip on Friday shot dead a senior Hamas official who was freed by Israel in a 2011 prisoner swap, the interior ministry in the Palestinian enclave said. The group blamed Israel for the killing.

Gunmen opened fire on Mazen Faqha in the Tell al-Hama neighborhood, Iyad al-Bozum, an interior ministry spokesman in Hamas-ruled Gaza, said.

“An investigation has been launched,” he said, without giving further details.

Police spokesman Ayman al-Batniji said Faqha had “four bullets in his head,” adding Israel and its “collaborators” were responsible for the killing.

“We know how to respond to this crime,” he warned.

Senior Hamas official Izzat El-Reshiq said the killers used silencers.

“Hamas and its (military wing) hold (Israel) and its collaborators responsible for this despicable crime…(Israel) knows that the blood of fighters is not spilled in vain and Hamas will know how to act,” the group said in a statement.

Faqha was one of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners that the Jewish state released in exchange for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who was held captive by Gaza militants in the coastal enclave after abducting him in a cross-border raid in 2006.

Faqha was a senior Hamas official in the Israeli-occupied West Bank but after his release Israel transferred him to Gaza.

According to Israeli media, while in exile in Gaza, he continued to plan attacks by West Bank militants.

The Israeli army refused to comment. But Khalil al-Haya, another senior Hamas official in Gaza, said: “This assassination does not serve anybody but the occupiers (Israel), it is of no interest to the other parties.”