Hamas threatens retaliatory attacks on Israelis overseas

Terrorist leader says assassins may have traveled to Dubai with Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau.

hamas men masked 298 (photo credit: AP [file])
hamas men masked 298
(photo credit: AP [file])

Israeliagents who accompanied National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau to the UAE twoweeks ago may have assassinated Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, seniorHamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said Saturday.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Zahar added that the agents possibly entered thecountry with forged documents. According to Israel Radio, he said that had “brokenthe rules of the game” by carrying out the attack outside the Palestinianterritories or the Green Line. If wishes to transfer theconflict to the international arena, there will be repercussions, Zahar wasquoted by the radio station as saying.

Thespokesman added that Hamas was now considering different courses of retaliatoryaction, among them the possibility of an attack against Israeli targets abroad.He stressed that the organization was fully capable of carrying out suchattacks, but had so far not chosen to do so.

OsamaHamdan, a senior Hamas representative in , was quoted by Israel Radioas saying that while the organization was obligated to retaliate, theretaliation would be painful but rational. He reportedly stressed that strikesinside the strategic depth of would have a more devastating effect on “the occupation” than attacks abroad.

On Friday, Hamas claimed thatIsraeli agents assassinated one of the Islamist group's veteran operatives in akilling allegedly carried out last week in , and vowed to retaliate.

The group blamed for Mabhouh’s slaying,but offered no evidence of foul play or Israeli involvement in the man's death.

The government had no immediatecomment.

The Hamas operative was killed onJanuary 20, according to an announcement on a Hamas Web site. The statementgave no details about his death or any explanation for the delay in making itpublic.

"We in Hamas hold the Zionistenemy responsible for the criminal assassination of our brother, and we pledgeto God and to the blood of the martyrs and to our people to continue his pathof jihad and martyrdom," read the statement on Hamas' PalestinianInformation Center Web site. The group pledged to "retaliate for thisZionist crime at the appropriate time and place."

Mabhouh will be buried Friday atthe Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, near , the statement said.

The Hamas statement identifiedMabhouh as one of the founders of Hamas' military organization, which has beenresponsible for hundreds of deadly attacks and suicide bombings targeting Israelissince the 1980s. It said he was involved in the kidnapping and murder of twoIsraeli soldiers, Ilan Sa’adon and Avi Sasportas,in 1989 and that he was still playing a "continuous role in supporting hisbrothers in the resistance inside the occupied homeland" at the time ofhis death.

He was born in the Gaza Strip.

Government officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

Responding to the report, meanwhile, Sa’adon’s mother toldArmy Radio on Friday morning she was happy to hear reports that a Hamasoperative believed to be involved in her son’s murder was assassinated.

 “I am happy that [his death] has been avenged,but sad that 20 years passed before this happened,” Sa’adon’s mother, Gilbert,told the radio station.