Hamas has arrested the suspected murderer of one of its key military commanders in Gaza, the Palestinian movement’s leader Ismail Haniya said Thursday.
The killing of Mazen Faqha in the heart of Hamas-controlled Gaza shocked the movement and raised fears of a fresh conflict with Israel as it rose to be the chief suspect behind the assassination.
“He has confessed to the crime,” Haniya told reporters in Gaza city.
No details were provided on the suspect’s identity, though Hamas has previously suggested Palestinian collaborators had worked with Israel on the assassination.
“Punishment will be carried out against the murderer,” Haniya added.
Hamas recently executed three men it accused of collaboration with Israel.
Faqha was shot dead on March 24 near his house in Gaza City.
He had been in charge of forming cells for the movement’s military wing in the occupied West Bank.
Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007, immediately blamed Israel, with which it has fought three wars since 2008.
Israel never confirmed nor denied involvement in the killing.
Haniya’s news conference was held outside Faqha’s house in Gaza City and attended by his widow and Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’s Gaza chief.
A Hamas source said on condition of anonymity that the suspect had “participated in the morning in a reconstruction of the crime”, after numerous security forces were seen in front of Faqha’s home earlier in the day.
A second source said Hamas’s military wing would decide “when and how vengeance (against Israel) will take place.”
Reports in the Israeli media Thursday quoted unnamed defense officials as saying there were signs Hamas was stepping up attempts to carry out attacks in the occupied West Bank.