Report: Israel planning to assassinate Haniyeh

Al-Hayat: Israel forming hit list which also includes Mashaal and Zahar, but is waiting to operate until Bush leaves region.

haniyeh 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
haniyeh 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Israel is planning to assassinate exiled Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal, deposed Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, and former PA Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar, but is waiting to give the green light on the operation until after US President George W. Bush leaves the region, the London-based newspaper, Al-Hayat reported on Sunday. The report cites sources who were part of the former PA unity government with Hamas as saying that European states informed them that Israel was forming a "hit list," on which appears the names of the three Hamas leaders. The sources further stated that the Islamic organization is taking the report very seriously, and have bolstered security around the targeted officials to unprecedented levels. Meanwhile, Hamas claimed on Saturday that its security forces had thwarted an attempt to assassinate Haniyeh. Ihab Ghissin, spoke sman for the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Interior, said a man carrying a bag containing a four-kilogram TNT explosive device was arrested during a rally attended by Haniyeh and other Hamas leaders. The rally was held in Gaza City to honor Palestinian pilgrims upon their return from Mecca, he said. While Haniyeh was addressing the crowd, Hamas security officials spotted a suspicious man carrying a big bag. When they arrested him, they were surprised to discover that the bag contained an explosive device that was supposed to be detonated by remote control. "Our men managed to detonate the bomb safely," Ghissin said. "The suspect is now being interrogated." Ghissin did not reveal the identity of the suspect. He also refused to say whether the suspect belonged to any political group. However, he said the suspect had provided the interrogators with names of other people involved in the alleged assassination attempt. "We have no doubt that the target was Haniyeh," said a Hamas official in the Gaza Strip. "This assassination attempt is clearly linked to the visit of US President George W. Bush to the region."