Gaza-Israel border shut after Mazen Faqha killing

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Hamas authorities have shut the Gaza border with Israel after the killing of a senior commander, which Hamas blamed on “Israel and its collaborators”.

The rare measure reflected Hamas’ shock after the killing of Mazen Faqha , who was found shot dead at the entrance of his Gaza City home late on Friday.

Hamas Interior Ministry spokesman Iyad al-Bozum on Sunday announced (Arabic) that the Beit Hanoun checkpoint, which faces the Israeli crossing of Erez in the north of the Gaza Strip, would be closed until further notice.

“In light of the humanitarian situation, only the residents of Gaza with humanitarian cases will be allowed to return to Gaza via the Beit Hanoun checkpoint,” Bozum said.

Bozum confirmed that Hamas security services were investigating the circumstances of Faqha’s killing.

He called on Gaza’s citizens and media to be responsible in dealing with the event and not to circulate rumours about the incident.

Hamas, the group that rules Gaza, said Faqha was shot four times in the head with a silenced gun.

Faqha, 38, was a senior Hamas official in the Israeli-occupied West Bank when he was jailed by Israel in 2003 for planning attacks against Israelis.

He was sentenced to nine life terms but was released into the Gaza Strip as one of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners that Israel let go in exchange for soldier Gilad Shalit.

Shalit was held in the coastal enclave after being seized in a cross-border raid in 2006.

An Israeli military spokeswoman declined to comment on the assassination in the Hamas-run Palestinian coastal enclave, which has been under Israeli blockade since 2006.

The Islamic Jihad movement said Faqha’s assassination marked the beginning of “a new offensive” by Israel against the Palestinian resistance, and that the resistance had the right to respond and defend itself.

Source: Al Jazeera

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