(photo credit: Associated Press)
Israel had plans to assassinate Khaled Mashaal, Hamas's Damascus-based chief, a senior official from the group claimed Thursday.
Muhammad Nazal, a member of Hamas's politburo, said his group had "received a lot of information about activities by the external Israeli security intelligence service [the Mossad] to target Khaled Mashaal."
"But the attempt had not entered the implementation stage," Nazal added.
Media reports have claimed that several Mossad agents arrived in Damascus in mid-July during the offensive in Lebanon disguised as foreign relief volunteers in a bid to assassinate Mashaal. Syria has not commented on the reports.
Israel suggested it could assassinate Mashaal after terrorists in the Gaza Strip abducted Cpl. Gilad Shalit in late June. The abductors were deemed close to Hamas.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev declined comment on the assassination claims on Thursday.
Mashaal has survived a previous Israeli assassination attempt in Jordan in 1997.