Israel was most likely not behind the assassination of Hamas operative Kamal
Ranaja in Damascus, Israeli security experts told The Jerusalem Post
Ranaja was found dead in his Damascus area home on Wednesday,
and Hamas quickly pointed a finger of blame at Israel. Defense Minister Ehud
Barak told Army Radio on Thursday that Ranaja was not “one of the righteous men
of the generation.”
Former senior Mossad member Rami Igra said,
“Practically, it’s not reasonable that Israel or a Western country would settle
accounts with a man like this, at this stage, in Syria. He’s not big
“He’s not important enough. To assassinate him would be a very
complicated, dangerous operation, and it would be taking a huge chance. I don’t
see Israel or any Western country willing to take this risk,” Igra said, noting
the unstable Syrian situation.
On the other hand, “it would not be a
problem for any gang in Damascus, maybe one working for Assad, to do this,” Igra
added. “With certainty I can say, it was not Israel.”
Dr. Ely Karmon, a
senior terrorism expert from the Interdisciplinary Center’s Institute for
He said the most likely entity behind the
killing was the Syrian regime, since Ranaja may well have been “involved in
smuggling weapons to the Syrian opposition,” particularly to the Muslim
“If he really was an aide to Mabhouh,” Karmon said,
referring to reports that Ranaja was the aide of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, the late
Hamas arms smuggler assassinated in Dubai, “then he had connections to weapons
“The Muslim Brotherhood is in a state of crisis with the
regime. There is a reasonable chance that he provided arms to the opposition,”
A second possibility is that Hamas itself killed Ranaja
after suspecting him of pocketing cash given to him to pay for weapons, ships
and smuggling teams.
“We saw this happen with Fatah, when Arafat killed
his own operatives in Europe for stealing cash,” Karmon noted.
and least likely explanation is that Israel was behind it, though it is highly
doubtful that Jerusalem “would take the chance of sending a team to Damascus,
which is under heavy security,” Karmon argued.
“Even journalists can’t
get in to Damascus,” he added, and the price of failure would be enormous for
Israel. It was also possible, though most unlikely, that a proxy team of
Palestinians hired by Israel carried out the hit, Karmon added.
is, Israel is unlikely to take such a dramatic chance for mid-level operative,”
Karmon concluded. “I don’t believe Israel did this.”
entering Gaza today for Hamas are coming from Libya, not Iran or Syria, he
continued, casting doubt on the centrality of Ranaja’s role as an arms
“Hamas is the Muslim Brotherhood, and it has not forgotten the
massacre perpetuated by the Assad regime against the Brotherhood [in Hama in
1982],” said Karmon.
On its official website, Hamas said it was unknown
who killed Kamal Ranaja, also known as Nizzar Abu Mujhad.
senior Hamas official later told AFP, “According to our information, [the]
Mossad was behind the assassination.”
The statement on the Hamas website
added that Ranaja died “in the service of his cause and his people,” vowing that
his blood would “not be wasted.”
The senior Hamas official said “a group
of people” carried out the murder. He identified Ranaja as a former deputy of
A Hamas source in Gaza said “there were marks of torture” on
Ranaja’s body. The organization, which rules the Gaza Strip, did not disclose
his role in the movement but said he “spent his life working for the sake of
God” within its ranks.
Foreign media has reported that Israeli agents
were behind the killing of Mabhouh in his Dubai hotel room.
2008, senior Hezbollah military commander Imad Mughniyeh was killed by a bomb in
his car in the Syrian capital, an attack the terrorist group blamed on
Jerusalem Post staff and Reuters contributed to this report.