En Hamas-utnevnt sikkerhetssjef, Abu Samhadana, ble drept i et israelsk flyangrep mot en treningsleir utenfor Khan Younis i Gaza torsdag. Drapet er et alvorlig slag for Hamas.

Hamas appointed Abu Samhadana as supervisor over the Interior Ministry, which oversees security services, in April. The move angered Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has been trying to salvage peacemaking with Israel since Hamas crushed his long-dominant Fatah faction in January elections.

The PRC is a coalition of militant groups that have spearheaded a more than 5-year-old Palestinian uprising. Since Israel quit Gaza last year after 38 years of occupation, it has played a leading role in cross-border rocket launches.

Siden Abbas var så sterkt imot utnevnelsen av Samhadana, kan det lett virke som om Israel gjør grovarbeidet for Abbas.

Abu Samhadana graduated from a military school in then-communist East Germany in 1988. He was loyal to Yasser Arafat for many years, but was later expelled from Arafat’s group Fatah.

He formed the Popular Resistance Committees, a violent group consisting of militants from various factions, after the latest Palestinian uprising broke out in 2000.

Hamas sverger hevn.

«This is a criminal assasination and Palestinians have the right to respond to this ugly crime by all means,» said Khaled Abu Hilal, an Interior Ministry spokesman. «Abu Samhadana paid with his life for the freedom and dignity of his people.»

A spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees vowed revenge.

«The Zionists and Israelis have opened the gates of hell by assassinating Abu Samhadana,» spokesman Abu Abir said. (ap)