Does the Assassination of a Senior Hamas Member in Gaza Mean Escalation?

(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Yoni Ben Menachem - Mazen Fuqha, a senior member of Hamas' military wing, was shot four times in the head in Gaza City near his home on March 24 by two men who used a pistol with a silencer. Fuqha had operated a cell that carried out a suicide bombing of a bus in 2002 that killed nine Israelis and injured 40 others. He was sentenced to nine life terms before his release in the Shalit deal in 2011. The killing in the heart of Hamas-controlled Gaza constitutes a serious blow to Hamas' prestige and shatters the sense of security for Hamas officials. From now on, they will begin to move around with armed escorts and security guards. Hamas is promising revenge against Israel, but the likelihood that Hamas will start firing rockets at Israel in response is low. Rocket fire into Israel would result in a strong Israeli response and another round of fighting that is not currently in Hamas' interest. Therefore, Hamas may respond with terrorist acts perpetrated by its "dormant cells" in the West Bank, in attacks against Israelis living there or inside the Green Line. Moreover, in order to surprise Israel, Hamas may deviate from its policy and carry out a revenge attack against Israeli or Jewish targets abroad, just as Hizbullah has done. The writer, a veteran Arab affairs and diplomatic commentator for Israel Radio and Television, is a senior Middle East analyst for the Jerusalem Center.

2017-03-27 00:00:00

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