The Palestinian resistance group and political party Hamas has accused Israel of being behind the killing of one of its senior operatives in Dubai and is vowing revenge.

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was found murdered in his hotel room on Monday, the apparent victim of deliberate electrocution. The Dubai government claimed that the killing was the work of a "a professional criminal gang that was following the victim before he came to the United Arab Emirates" and that the suspects, who were mostly Euorpean passport holders, had already fled the country.

Dubai's police chief told the Al-Arabiya satellite channel that al-Mahbouh was traveling under a pseudonym and "If we had been told of his presence, we would have provided him with the necessary protection."

Hamas leaders, however, were quick to blame Israel, which is widely assumed to have been behind other covert attacks on their operatives. The victim was one of the founders of the military wing of Hamas, which has been behind numerous attacks on Israelis since the 1980's. According to al-Mahbouh's brother, there had been previous Israeli assassination attempts against him, including a poisoning which put him in a coma six months ago.

At al-Mahbouh's funeral in Syria on Friday, top Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal proclaimed. "I say to you Zionists, do not rejoice. You killed him, but his sons will fight you. God already took our leaders and loved ones, but resistance goes on."

"This is an open war," Mashaal insisted. "We will avenge the blood of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh."

The Israeli government has declined to comment.