Hamas says it arrested suspect in Faqha assassination

Hamas says it has arrested the killer of senior commander Mazen Faqha, who was shot dead in March, and said the suspect had carried out the assassination on Israel's orders.

Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls Gaza, said Thursday that it has arrested a person in connection with the mysterious March assassination of one of its top commanders and that the suspect had acted on orders from Israel.

Hamas vowed to crack down on any Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel.

Israeli officials have not commented on the incident, except for Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who suggested that Israel did not take part in it.

Following his death, Hamas imposed a lockdown in Gaza, setting up military style checkpoints throughout the territory, sealing its border crossings and rounding up dozens of people for questioning.

"The occupation (Israel) gave the instructions to murder Fuqaha", Haniya said.

Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007, immediately blamed its arch-enemy Israel, with which it has fought three wars since 2008.

The shooting of Faqha exposed flaws in Hamas' security procedures and its inability to find the assailant quickly caused further embarrassment.

Fuqaha was originally from town of Tubas in the West Bank.

The press conference was held in front of Faqha's house in the Gaza Strip.

Faqha was one of more than 1,000 Palestinians released from Israeli jails in an exchange deal for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011.

The announcement comes shortly after Gaza's rulers unveiled a new, seemingly more pragmatic political program aimed at ending the group's worldwide isolation.

Hamas is trying to rebrand itself as an Islamic national liberation movement, rather than a branch of the pan-Arab Muslim Brotherhood, which has been outlawed by Egypt.

Israel considers Hamas a terrorist group and says it has not changed its ways.

  • Jon Douglas