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July 13, 2020

Hamas commando unit head ‘collaborated’ with Israel

Top Story

July 13, 2020

JERUSALEM: A senior commander of Palestinian organisation Hamas’s military wing, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, has reportedly fled the Gaza Strip amid suspicions that he had been collaborating with Israel, Palestinian sources said.

The man, who headed Hamas’s commando frogman unit, allegedly fled the Strip aboard an IDF boat, the sources told the Palestinian news website Amad.

They said that the senior Hamas commander took with him a laptop containing “dangerous classified information” about the group’s frogman unit, as well as sums of money and eavesdropping devices that were in his possession, foreign media reported.

According to the sources, another senior Hamas military commander was recently arrested on suspicion of collaboration with Israel.

The man, who was identified only as Mohammmed, was responsible for the group’s communication networks in the Shajjaiyeh neighborhood of Gaza City and trained Hamas members in information gathering and anti-espionage techniques.

The sources claimed that he began working with Israeli intelligence agencies in 2009. His alleged ties with Israel were uncovered when he asked his brother to collect for him a sum of money that was left near a garbage bin. The brother was apprehended by members of the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades as he was trying to take the cash, the sources said.

The two incidents prompted Hamas to take a series of measures, including summoning several of its members for interrogation and changing its communication networks and the phone numbers of many senior officials.

The sources said that Hamas’s military wing was currently in a state of “security hysteria,” particularly after the arrest of dozens of its members in the past few weeks.

Hamas security forces have seized nearly $500,000 in cash and many electronic devices designated for espionage and eavesdropping.

“Investigations are continuing secretly amid fears that senior commanders of Hamas’s military wing may be involved with the spy network,” the sources said.

Recent reports in a number of Arab media outlets said that Hamas has uncovered a plot by an Islamic State-affiliated cell to carry out a series of terrorist attacks in the Gaza Strip. The cell consists mostly of former members of Hamas’s military wing who quit to join the IS-affiliated group to carry out terrorist attacks against Hamas security installations and figures.

Sources close to Hamas claimed that some of the suspects were linked to Israel.

Meanwhile, The Hamas interior ministry on Sunday denied the report of arrest of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades senior commander on charges of collaboration with Israel.

“We reject the fabricated rumors… which attributed claims to the interior ministry regarding the arrest of several Hamas members on charges of collaborating with Israel,” the Gaza-based Hamas said in a statement.

Last week, the Hezbollah-affiliated newspaper Al-Akhbar reported that Hamas has uncovered a “dangerous plot by the Israeli intelligence services” to launch attacks on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip. The report said that Hamas arrested a number of Islamic State-affiliated activists who were also planning to carry out a series of suicide bombings in the coastal enclave by using explosive belts and booby-trapped motorcycles.

The report came days after the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Interior and National Security announced the arrest of a cell that was planning to carry out terrorist attacks in the Strip.

“As part of its duty to maintain the stability of the security situation in the Gaza Strip and to confront the attempts by the Israeli occupation and its agents to penetrate the home front, the security services managed to discover a cell, directed by the Israeli occupation, as it was carrying out a sabotage action against resistance elements,” the ministry said. “The security services spotted suspicious movements of a number of people during the past few days and began intensive investigations and operations to track these people, which led to their arrest after a security operation that lasted for several days and the confiscation of technical equipment and money they used to carry out missions inside the Gaza Strip.”