A new report accuses Israel's Mossad Intelligence Agency which handles undercover operations outside Israel of being behind last week’s attempt on the life of senior Hamas official Mohammad Abu Hamza Hamdan.
Hamdan was moderately injured in a car explosion in the southern Lebanon city of Sidon and was evacuated to the hospital.
According to the Al Akhbar newspaper, Lebanese intelligence has managed to identify the leader of the cell tasked with the assassination as Ahmed Battiya from Amsterdam. The report says that he was recruited by the Mossad in Holland and has since made several trips to Lebanon for the Mossad.
The report also claims that the target was Mohammed's brother Osama, a Gaza City native who has been an active Hamas member since 1988. Lebanese intelligence says that Bittiya traveled several times from a town near Beirut to Sidon in order to surveil Hamdan's movements. In addition, the Arab media claims that all Israeli agents fled Sidon after the explosion.
After the attack, the Hamas representative in Lebanon pointed an accusing finger at Israel: "The Zionist enemy is the only one who benefits from harming Lebanon's stability, and we must let the Lebanese authorities complete the investigation and reach the criminals."
In a separate report, the Al-Miyadin news agency said that sources in the area saw an Israeli plane circling the sky during the explosion. The network also reported that the explosion took place in the parking lot of Hamdan's house, which, according to the network, indicates an assassination operation.The network added that this was the same location in which Islamic Jihad members, the al-Majdoub brothers, were killed in 2006 in an operation allegedly carried out by Israel.
Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah also accused Israel of being behind the explosion. “All the signs indicate that Israel carried out the assassination attempt against a Hamas member in Sidon," Nasrallah said in a speech on Friday, according to Israel’s Channel 2 News.
However, Israeli officials hinted that the Jewish state was not behind the attack "If we’d been involved, this wouldn’t have ended with him lightly wounded," said Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz.
"Every day in the Middle East there are dozens of explosions that they try and pin on Israel, so let’s not react to this too seriously," added Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.
While the details of the operation are as yet unclear, Hamas has reportedly been seeking to open an active terror front in Lebanon due to Israel's technological advances in rooting out and destroying Hamas attack tunnels in Gaza, removing the terror group's main offensive weapon.
On Friday, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman admitted that Hamas "is currently trying to carry out terrorist attacks across Judea and Samaria, as well as develop new fronts, primarily in southern Lebanon. It wants to use that area to threaten Israel," Lieberman said.
"The newfound friendship between top Hamas officials and Hassan Nasrallah is another thing we're monitoring closely. Every development will meet the proper response," Liberman added.