The body of a Hamas scientist gunned down last week in Malaysia was returned to the Gaza Strip Thursday for a funeral.
Relatives, Hamas Leaders and Other Political Group Leaders Welcomed the Dead Body of Fadi al-Batsh
Al-Batsh's family said he would be buried on Thursday after Hamas officials had previously said they had a big one on Friday would hold a public funeral. It was not immediately clear why the date of the funeral was changed.
Al-Batsch, a lecturer in electrical engineering at a Malaysian university, was killed on a motorcycle by two assailants when he went to pray in a mosque on Saturday. Hamas accuses the Israeli Mossad spy agency of being behind the murder.
"They return to us … and pave the way for our return to Palestine," said Khalil al-Hayya, a leading Hamas leader ceremony at the border crossing. The coffin lay on a table, wrapped in a Palestinian flag.
"For occupation we say that the debts have become heavy to us," he said. "The day of punishment is coming."
Hamas has identified al-Batch as commander in his military wing, but said little about his activities. Israeli media reported that he was involved in the Hamas military drone program.
Israel has a long history of murdering wanted militants, though it seldom acknowledges responsibility. But Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Thursday that Israel did not do it
"We did not kill him," Lieberman told the Arab news site Elaph. Asked who killed al-Batsch, the minister said, "Ask James Bond … maybe James Bond killed him like in the movies."
Israel and Hamas, a militant group vowed to destroy Israel, are fierce enemies has led three wars since Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007.
Tensions have been tightening recently as Hamas organizes mass protests at the Israeli border.
Earlier on Thursday, hundreds of Palestinians were arrested in Gaza at the funeral of Gaza journalist, who died after being shot dead by an Israeli army on April 1
Ahmed Abu Hussein, 24, died Wednesday in one Israeli hospital at his injuries.
Amateur video taken At this time he wears a blue vest and a helmet with the word "TV" on it. When he was shot, he was apparently in a group of passers-by, far from the Israeli border.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the Israeli military said, "the circumstances of Ahmed Abu Hussein's injury are being investigated."
Thirty-five demonstrators, including two journalists, were killed in the weekly demonstrations by Israeli fire.
Human rights groups, the United Nations and the European Union have all criticized Israel's use of fire against unarmed demonstrators.
Israel says it defends its border and accuses Hamas of using the demonstrations as cover for planning and executing attacks.