“We mourn the assassination of former Syrian prisoner Midhat Saleh al-Saleh by the treacherous Zionist enemy while he was returning home in the village of Ain al-Tinah village, overlooking the occupied town of Majdal Shams,” Hamas said in a statement released on Sunday.
The statement added that Saleh, who had served 12 years in an Israeli prison, “had resisted the Israeli occupation, rejected annexation of the Golan Heights and underscored the unity of Syrian people as well as Syria’s territorial integrity.”
“The criminal act of Saleh’s assassination exposes the bloody mentality of the Zionist regime, which has its roots in murder and terrorism. The heinous crime will not stop the resistance and steadfastness of people in the occupied Golan, who reject Zionists’ projects.”
Syria’s official news agency SANA reported that 54-year-old Saleh, who was responsible for overseeing the strategic Golan Heights’ boundary, was shot and killed on Saturday by an apparent Israeli sniper while inside Syria.
The Syrian government offered its condolences to the friends and family of the former legislator in a statement. Prime Minister Hussein Arnous described Saleh’s assassination as a cowardly act.
Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office at Geneva, Hussam Edin Aala, also called him “a man who devoted his life to defending the rights of his people in the occupied Syrian Golan.”
Saleh was born in the Druze village of Majdal Shams in 1967. He was arrested by Israeli intelligence agents in 1985, along with other Druze officials from the occupied Golan villages, and convicted of trumped-up charges. In 1997, after his release, he went to Syria, where he was elected to Parliament. After representing the Golan in Syria’s legislature, he was appointed head of the country’s Golan Office and an adviser to President Bashar al-Assad.
Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria in the closing stages of its 1967 Six-Day War on Arab countries, which also saw the regime occupy the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem al-Quds, and the Gaza Strip.
Tel Aviv unilaterally annexed the Golan Heights in 1981 in a move not recognized by the international community.
Syria has repeatedly reaffirmed its sovereignty over the Golan Heights, saying the territory must be completely restored to its control.