The identity of an alleged Israeli security asset accused of assassinating a top-level Hamas military commander has surfaced on social media networks, The Jerusalem Post's sister publication Maariv reported Saturday.
Former Hamas official Ashraf Abu Laila, who was dismissed from the terrorist organization in 2008, was arrested earlier in the week after being accused of murdering Mazen Fuqaha on behalf of the Israeli government.
“We announce to our people and the Arab and Islamic nation that the direct, criminal killer was arrested and discovered,” Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said at a press conference Thursday.
Hamas, according to Maariv
citing social media reports, said that Laila was ordered to kill the military-commander by the Israeli government nearly six-weeks ago. On March 24, Fuqaha was found shot to death near his home in the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood in Gaza City.
Hamas sources reported that Laila was brought to the scene of the assassination and was ordered to reconstruct the event before the cameras on Friday, in the presence of dozens of security personnel and police.
Originally from the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, Laila was forced to leave the Islamist terror organization in 2008 for "problematic ethical conduct," defecting to an extremist Salafi organization based in the coastal enclave before allegedly being recruited by the Israeli security services.
Fuqaha, who was born and raised in Tubas, northeast of Nablus, was a senior leader of the Kassam Brigades in the West Bank, which carried out a number of suicide bombing attacks against Israelis during the second intifada.
Before his death, an Israeli court sentenced Fuqaha to life plus 50 years in prison for planning a suicide bombing on a bus at the Meron junction near Safed in August 2002 that killed nine people and wounded 38 others. Nonetheless, Israel released Fuqaha in 2011 as a part of the Gilad Schalit prisoner swap, but barred him from returning to the West Bank.
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