A bomb-maker from the Islamic militant group Hamas who was killed in a mysterious explosion in the West Bank last week had made chemical weapons "capable of killing thousands of Israelis," a Palestinian newspaper reported Tuesday.
The Palestinian daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, citing a Hamas source, reported that Ibrahim Beni Ouda "secretly produced a chemical substance capable of killing thousands of Israelis if placed in the center of an Israeli city."
Beni Ouda, a leader of Hamas's armed wing, the Ezzedin al-Qassam Brigades, died on November 23 when the car he was driving in the northern West Bank city of Nablus suddenly exploded.
Palestinian police say they suspect Israel of assassinating Beni Ouda by using a collaborator to plant a bomb in the headrest of the car.
Hamas officials said Beni Ouda was jailed by Palestinian police for more than two years for making bombs and had been released for a holiday the day before he died, with prison officials saying they feared Israel would bomb the prison.
Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reported that Beni Ouda -- who owned a shop in Nablus that makes hearing aids -- had also built booby-trapped video cassettes to use in anti-Israeli attacks.
It did not say when Beni Ouda produced the chemical weapons or what happened to them after his death.
The paper said Beni Ouda had arrived four years ago from Jordan to assume leadership of the Al-Qassam Brigades in the West Bank.
Hamas, the political wing of the Islamic Resistance Movement, has said Beni Ouda was a senior leader of Ezzedin Al-Qassam, describing him as a "colonel."
Another Hamas militant, Mahmud Abu Hannud, who Palestinian police say is in their custody, is generally considered the Ezzedin Al-Qassam's number one man in the West Bank.
Jamal Mansour, a senior Hamas leader in Nablus, told AFP: "Ibrahim Beni Ouda was from the military wing and they are the only ones who have information on him."
Hamas officials have previously described Beni Ouda as a quiet, private person, saying that little was known about him.
Hamas's armed wing has been responsible for numerous anti-Israeli attacks, including a string of suicide bus bombings, since the signing of the Israeli-Palestinian peace accords in 1993.
The Al-Qassam Brigades also claimed responsibility for the rush-hour blast near a bus in the Israeli town of Hadera on November 22 that left two Israelis dead and more than 50 wounded – RAMALLAH (AFP)
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