JAFFA, Israel – The twentieth anniversary of the targeted assassination of top Hamas explosives expert Yahya Ayyash was marked in the Palestinian Territories on Tuesday.
It was also marked on Twitter, with a #Ayyash_is_coming hashtag that reached more than 26 million users around the Islamic and Arab world.
Ayyash, an operative of Hamas’ Azz a-Din al Qassam Brigades, was killed in January 1996 by a booby-trapped cell phone that was passed on to him by the Israeli Shin Bet.
The bombs put together by Ayyash, known as “the engineer,” were used to kill more than 70 Israelis.
After his assassination, Hamas carried out a string of suicide bombings in retaliation, which left 40 Israelis dead. The attacks are credited with ushering the victory of Benjamin Netanyahu in the 1996 election, who was trailing 30 points behind then Prime Minister Shimon Peres in the polls.
“Ayyash was killed but his spirit is still alive among the young Palestinians,” some wrote alongside the hashtag, that became the most popular in Jordan, tenth most popular in Saudi Arabia and was also trending in the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Qatar, Algeria and elsewhere.