Friday 18 August 2017

Hamas closes Gaza crossing with Israel after senior militant shot dead

Masked gunmen from the Qassam brigade, the militia wing of Hamas, carry the body of Mazen Faqha during his funeral in Gaza City (AP)
Masked gunmen from the Qassam brigade, the militia wing of Hamas, carry the body of Mazen Faqha during his funeral in Gaza City (AP)

Hamas have shut Gaza's main border crossing with Israel following the mysterious killing of a senior militant.

Hamas Interior Ministry spokesman Iyad al-Bozum said the Erez crossing point will be "fully closed in both directions" until further notice.

The unusual measure came after a senior Hamas militant, Mazen Faqha, was shot dead at the entrance of his Gaza City home late on Friday.

Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza, said Faqha was shot four times in the head with a silenced gun and blamed Israel for "assassinating" him, without providing evidence.

Suspecting that local collaborators with Israel were involved, Hamas has since deployed dozens of checkpoints across the Gaza Strip, where drivers are asked to turn on their interior lights and hand over ID for inspection.

The closing of Erez also applies to journalists, aid workers and patients needing medical help in Israel.

Faqha, who was given nine life sentences for directing suicide bombing attacks against Israelis, was freed in 2011 along with more than 1,000 others as part of an exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit.

His funeral on Saturday drew thousands of supporters, including the movement's top leaders in Gaza, who vowed to avenge the killing.

Israel has not commented on his death.

AP

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