A senior member of Hamas was murdered in Damascus on Wednesday, Hamas politburo member Izzat al-Rishq announced.
In a message posted to his Facebook page, al-Rishq said that the murdered member of Hamas is Kamal Ranaja, also known as Nizzar Abu-Mujhad. Al-Rishq said that Hamas will investigate the circumstances that led to Ranaja’s murder.
The Arabic network Al-Mayadeen said that Ranaja was in the past an aide of Hamas member Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, who was assassinated in Dubai in 2010. Mabhouh’s death was widely blamed on Israel's Mossad spy agency, which never confirmed or denied involvement.
Despite previously being close allies, there has been a rift between Hamas and the Syrian regime ever since the uprising against President Bashar Assad began. Reports surfaced as early as last May that Hamas is moving its headquarters from Damascus to Egypt and the terror group is strengthening itself in the Sinai.
Some reports claimed that the Damascus-based Hamas leadership left Syria after the Syrian government asked the Hamas leaders to leave.
In December, it was reported that dozens of Hamas members have quietly returned to Gaza from Damascus. Later reports said that Hamas leaders attached to the organization's long-standing Damascus bureau are fleeing Syria with their families as Assad's regime grows increasingly unstable.
Hamas is hoping that the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi in the Egyptian presidential elections could enable it to secure international recognition. The Muslim Brotherhood helped found Hamas in 1987. The group has also been attempting to get closer to Jordan.