Israel Categorically Denies Mossad Role in Assassination

GAZA CITY (AP) -

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman categorically denied on Thursday that Israel killed a Hamas-affiliated scientist who was gunned down last week in Malaysia.

Liberman told the Arabic news site Elaph that “we did not assassinate him,” and dismissed the allegation as a Cold War era fiction.

A report in The New York Times Thursday claimed that the elimination of Hamas engineer Fadi al-Batsh is part of a long-running campaign directed by Israel’s Mossad to destroy Hamas’s “brain trust” – a group of educated professionals and academics who work abroad on projects directed by the terror group, and who submit their work to Hamas, which uses it to attack Israel.

In Gaza, Hamas accused Israel of assassinating al-Batsh, whose body arrived in Gaza Thursday afternoon, after being flown to Egypt and taken through the Rafah border crossing, Palestinian media said.

The return of his remains was carried out over Israeli objections. Israel attempted to prevent Batsh’s body from entering the Strip until Hamas agreed to return to Israel the bodies of two IDF soldiers, as well as two mentally ill Israeli citizens, but Egypt refused.

Relatives and Palestinian faction leaders gathered to receive the body as it entered Gaza through the Egyptian border.

Batsh is to be buried on Friday morning in Gaza City.

A service was held for him on Wednesday in the Malaysian capital, accompanied by a crowd shouting for revenge on Israel.