The Latest: Hamas buries, vows revenge for slain engineer
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The Latest on developments surrounding the killing of a Palestinian in Malaysia (all times local):
Thousands of people, led by Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, are taking part in the funeral of Hamas engineer Fadi al-Batsh in northern Gaza.
Haniyeh led the funeral prayers at a mosque in Jabaliya, the town where al-Batsh grew up. He accused Israel of killing al-Batsh, who was gunned down in Malaysia last week, and vowed revenge.
Haniyeh said “the hand that assassinated the scientist will be severed.” He also thanked Malaysia and Egypt for allowing the body to be repatriated to Gaza “against the will of” Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
Lieberman had said the body should not be returned until Hamas releases captive Israeli civilians and the remains of Israeli soldiers it is holding.
Mourners interrupted Haniyeh several times in applause, chanting “God is Great.”
The body of a Hamas scientist gunned down in Malaysia last week has arrived in his native Gaza for burial.
Relatives and Palestinian faction leaders gathered in a show of respect to greet the body of Fadi al-Batsh as it entered Gaza through the Egyptian border. Hamas has scheduled a funeral for Friday.
Al-Batsh, who was working as a university researcher in Malaysia, was killed by a pair of assailants on motorcycles early Saturday as he was on his way to pray at a mosque in Kuala Lumpur.
Hamas has identified him as commander in its military wing and accused Israel of killing him.
But on Thursday, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel did not do it.
Israeli media have reported that al-Batsh was involved in Hamas’ military drone program.
Israel’s defense minister is denying that his country killed a Hamas-affiliated scientist who was gunned down last week in Malaysia.
Avigdor Lieberman told the Arabic news site Elaph that “we did not assassinate him.”
When asked in the interview on Thursday who killed Palestinian engineer Fadi al-Batsh, the minister said: “Ask James Bond ... maybe James Bond killed him like in the movies.”
Al-Batsh, an electrical engineering lecturer at a Malaysian university, was gunned down by two men on a motorcycle as he was on his way to a mosque on Saturday.
In Gaza, Hamas leaders and relatives are waiting at the Egyptian border for his body.
Hamas, the militant Islamic group that rules Gaza, accuses Israel of assassinating al-Batsh. He is to be buried Friday at a ceremony led by Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ top leader.
Hundreds of Palestinians have participated in the funeral of a Gaza journalist who died after being shot by Israeli troops while covering a border protest.
Ahmed Abu Hussein, 24, died Wednesday at an Israeli hospital, nearly two weeks after he was shot on April 13.
Abu Hussein was covering the weekly massive protests organized by Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza.
Hamas leaders and family members were waiting Thursday at the Egyptian border for the body of a Hamas-affiliated scientist gunned down last week in Malaysia. The body of Fadi al-Batsh, an engineering lecturer in a Kuala Lumpur university, was expected to arrive later Thursday.
Hamas, which accuses Israel of assassinating al-Batsh, is to bury him on Friday at a ceremony led by Ismail Haniyeh, the group’s top leader.