Zahar is an active union leader and joined hands in the creation of the Palestinian Medical society

Additional Reporting By Mustafa el-Sawwaf, IOL Correspondent

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, September 10 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) – A physician by profession, active academician and writer, senior Hamas political leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar narrowly escaped an Israeli assassination attack Wednesday, September 10, that left two people dead, including his eldest son.

The Israeli F-16s dropped a several-ton bomb at Zahar’s house in a densely-populated Gaza City neighborhood of Rimal leveling the building and sending huge plumes of smoke into the air.

The two bodies at the morgue were confirmed to be of Zahar’s eldest son, Khaled, 29, and his bodyguard, Shehdeh al-Deiri.

Zahar, who witnesses said was in a garden beside the house at the time, was lightly hurt in the leg and taken to nearby Shifa Hospital, reported the Israeli Haaretz daily on its website.

Al-Shifa hospital spokesman told Agence France-Presse (AFP) Zahar was being treated there after being slightly injured.

Zahar’s wife and daughter were among about 20 people wounded, including some seriously, witnesses said, as rescue workers were looking for more bodies in the wreckage of the house.

The new assassination attempt came few days after a failed attempt against Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and senior political leader Ismail Haneya.

On Thursday, August 21, Israel assassinated senior Hamas political leader Ismail Abu Shanab drawing the group’s declaration of ending the unilateral truce declared by the main Palestinian resistance factions on June 29.

‘Vigorously Condemned’

The Palestinian Authority condemned Wednesday’s attack and appealed yet again for international observers to be sent to the Palestinian territories.

“We vigorously condemn this new Israeli crime which has thrown oil on the flames,” chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said.

“We appeal to the quartet and international community to intervene immediately and send observers on the ground so the application of the roadmap can begin,” he added.

The attack came shortly after Israeli troops launched two incursions into the northern West Bank at dawn Wednesday, moving into Jenin and a refugee camp in Tulkarem, Palestinian security sources said.

Explosions and exchanges of fire could be heard during the operations, the sources said, without giving any casualties figures.

Spokesman

Palestinians remove the debris at the scene of an Israeli air strike in Gaza City.

Zahar is a main spokesman of Hamas, which he helped to establish with the beginning of the first Intifada, in an effort to end the more than 50-year-old Israeli occupation in 1987.

He was detained by Israeli occupation forces several times, and banished to southern Lebanon in 1992 for several months along with some 400 resistance activists.

Zahar was numerously detained by Palestinian security forces, mostly under pressures from Israel, including a several-month detention in 1996.

Zahar was the first press spokesman for Hamas, at a time the group members were subjected to waves of detentions and attempts of dismantling.

Championing the defense of the Palestinian resistance position, Zahar has been also famous physician by profession in the Gaza Strip.

He is a luminary academician, given his role in the 1978 creation of the Islamic University, where he was also a lecturer, the Nursery School in 1994 and the Al-Nur Studies Center in Gaza.

Zahar is also an active union leader, as he joined hands in the creation of the Palestinian Medical society.

During his leadership of the society from 1981-1985, he was detained by Israeli occupation forces for staging a sit-in for doctors, and after which he was fired from Al-Shifaa hospital in the Strip.

The Hamas leader is an articulate mosque imam, and gives a weekly lesson in Al-Rahma (mercy) mosque beside his house.

Intellectual

Zahar has also contributed a number of books on the Islamic thought and literary.

He had authored a novel called “Nowhere Under Sun” in response to former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s “Place Under Sun”.

Of Zahar’s literary library is “On the Platform” and two other novels on Yehia Ayash and Emad Aql, Palestinian resistance leaders killed by Israeli gunfire.

The Hamas political leader also wrote a book on Palestinian refugees and the political intercourse of the Islamic movement.

He has two books under publication on media and the problems gripping modern life.

Born in 1945 to a Palestinian father and an Egyptian mother, Zahar, fathering three sons and four daughters, is an alumni of Faculty of Medicine in Ain Shams University, Cairo.

Graduating in 1971, he had a general surgery MA from the same university five years later, and he is now taking up the Palestinian health minister’s advisor.