A Hamas member was killed Wednesday in a suburb of the Syrian capital Damascus, a senior member of the group told AFP, adding that they suspected Israel’s spy agency of being behind the attack.
The victim was Kamal Hussein Ghannaje, said the official, speaking under condition of anonymity.
“A group of people entered his home in Qudsaya ... where he was liquidated,” the official said. “According to our information, Mossad was behind the assassination.”
Israel’s defense minister Ehud Barak responded to army radio coyly to the suggestion saying, “I’m not sure that that’s necessarily right,” adding that nonetheless he would not mourn the Hamas member because he was not “one of the righteous of his generation.”
The official said Ghannaje was one of the deputies of Mahmoud Abdel Raouf al-Mabhouh, a senior Hamas military commander found dead in a Dubai hotel room in 2010.
Investigators there said they believed Mossad was behind that murder.
Several speculations arose at the time as to the reason why Mahmoud Abdel Raouf al-Mabhouh left the security of Syria and ventured in the westernized Dubai.
Syria has long-allowed Hamas to operate offices in Damascus, but in recent months, the Palestinian group has quietly moved most of its operations elsewhere after the opposition’s demonstrations spread across the country.
The situation in neighboring Syria has been a key concern for Israel, and topped the agenda of talks between Israeli officials and Russian President Vladimir Putin who visited the Jewish state earlier this week.
Israel is still technically at war with Syria, but the armistice line separating the neighbors has been largely quiet in recent years, leading some to suggest that the fall of President Bashar al-Assad could be bad for the Jewish state.
However in recent months, after initially declining to make public comment, Israeli leaders have condemned Assad’s crackdown, saying it is only a matter of time before he is ousted.