Following calls for vengeance and a "day of rage" against the PA for an alleged assassination, Hamas security forces in the Gaza Strip warned the angered Al-Aqsa Brigades that if they did not clarify threats the group’s weapons would be confiscated.
Sources within Fatah said that the Gaza government security forces told the brigades that they could not make idle threats, and would have to hold a news conference giving details about an assassination they said Thursday was on the shoulders of the Fatah-lead Palestinian Authority, and not on Israel.
Hours later, the family of Hassan Madhoun, assassinated in 2005, said they held Israel entirely responsible for the death of their son, while a video from the brigades denounced leaked documents that hinted the fighter’s death had been the result of PA collusion in a video statement aired on Qatar-based satellite channel Al-Jazeera.
The Nabil Masoud branch of the Fatah-aligned brigades had spoken out against the PA, after leaked mediation documents revealed handwritten Arabic notes of a meeting where then Israeli defense minister Shaul Mofaz asked the former PA interior minister Nasser Yasouf to assassinate an Al-Aqsa fighter, Hassan Madhoun.
"We know his address … Why don’t you kill him?" Mofaz said. "He is not Hamas and you can kill him."
Later, Yousef answers that "We’re working" on taking action against Madhoun and others.
In their first statement, the brigades had named four PA security officials and said they were behind the assassination of Madhoun. Those identified were former Fatah strongman in Gaza Muhammad Dahlan, along with PA security forces leaders Naser Yousef, Samir Al-Mashharawi, and Rashid Abu Shabak.
After the statement was released, Hamas officials reportedly demanded that the brigades release any and all information they had on the subject of the assassination. Sources said the group initially refused, but were then told the brigades would be dismantled and fighters arrested if the full nature of the allegations against the PA were not revealed.
Statements from Madhoun’s family and the brigades both pointed the finger at Israel.
"Israel alone is responsible for targeting Hassan," one family member told Al-Jazeera, "all of Gaza knows that it was Israeli warplanes who killed him."
The family said it "denounce[d] the programed confusion by the media," which they said "cleared the occupation of the crime of assassination by holding the PA responsible for his death."
Officials from the PA had "made every effort to protect Hassan and his companions," the family said, adding that he had sought refuge in government buildings several times, and was well received there.
The statement from the brigades was less equivocal, however, and later members said parts of the video had been edited out.
Speech was cryptic, with a brigadesman saying "we will not allow anyone to talk about the identity of Hassan Madhoun who does not know him," and repeating an affirmation that the group had a "right to resist the occupation."
An official in Ramallah said at least three members of the group were wanted by Israel, and said that the events in Gaza would mean that Ashraf Abu Eida, Imad Abu Namus and Ahmad Abu Ghaza could also be targeted by the Hamas security forces.
Madhoun was killed on 11 January 2005 along with a Hamas-affiliated Al-Qassam Brigades member Fawzi Abu Qaraan. The two were in a car with government license plates when they were hit. Resistance factions in Gaza at the time vowed retaliation on Israel.
"There will be many chances to defend this crime," the Al-Aqsa had said in a statement, adding that a chance would be taken "in the coming days."