Two Palestinians were sentenced to death in absentia by a Palestinian military court on Sunday for their involvement in the 1996 killing of Hamas military leader Yehya Ayyash, who topped Israel's wanted list at the time.
Ayyash was killed by an explosives-rigged mobile phone on January 5, 1996, in a attack widely believed to be the work of Israel's Shin Beth domestic security agency.
Kamal Abdel Rahman Hammad, 50, a Gaza businessman, was accused of helping Israel mastermind the attack on Ayyash, whose death sparked a string of revenge suicide bombings in the spring of 1996.
Hussam Mohammed Hammad, 30, a member of the same family, was also accused of involvement in the killing.
Both men, who are believed to have fled to Israel immediately after the attack, face death by firing squad. In addition, the court ordered the confiscation of all of Kamal Hammad's assets
Ayyash, the leader of Hamas's military wing the Ezzedin al-Qassam Brigades, which has carried out dozens of deadly anti-Israeli attacks, was known as the "engineer" for his bomb-making skills.
The Gaza court also sentenced Kamal's nephew Osama Hammad to three years in prison for unwittingly giving the booby-trapped phone to Ayyash. The sentence was due to take effect from the date of his arrest in July 1996 and he is expected to be released soon, court sources said.
A fourth defendant, Osama's sister Karima Khaled Hammad, had been charged with helping Kamal but the court ruled that she was not responsible for her actions because of mental instability. She was also arrested in July 1996 -(AFP)
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