A Hamas operative has survived an assassination attempt in
Damascus, the second such car bombing against the Palestinian insurgency in
Syria in less than three months.
Syria blamed Israel's Mossad for the bombing. Israel, which on Dec. 12
lost five soldiers to a massive bombing in the Gaza Strip in which Hamas and
Fatah claimed responsibility, has not responded to the accusation.
Syrian Interior Minister Ghazi Kanaan said a Hamas operative was the
target of a car bombing in a blast at 3:45 p.m. Monday on a street in the
southern Damascus neighborhood of Al Mazaa. The bomb was placed under the
seat of the sports utility vehicle, but blew up after the operative and his
The Hamas target was later identified by Palestinian sources as Musbah
Abu Haweila, said to be in his 40s. Earlier, he was identified as Abu
"The party behind this collaborates with the Israeli Mossad, or is the
Mossad itself," Kanaan said.
Officials said three pedestrians were slightly injured in the blast. It
was the second bombing in Damascus against a Hamas target since September
On Sept. 21, Izzedin Sheik Khalil, said to have been responsible for
Hamas operations in the West Bank was killed by a car bomb, also attributed
to Israel. At the time, Hamas said the Mossad was aided by an unidentified
Arab intelligence agency.
The two attacks took place in the same area and used the same methods,
officials said. Palestinian sources said Abu Haweila was a colleague of
But an unidentified Syrian official was quoted by the official Syrian
agency as saying that Palestinians were behind the bombing. The official did
"The car belonged to a Palestinian, which leads us to believe it was an
act of sabotage by Palestinian brothers living in Syria," the official was
quoted as saying. "The explosion happened shortly after the Palestinian's
family got out of the car, which saved their lives."