Ha­mas: ‘Big se­crets’ un­cov­ered in Gaza

Ter­ror­ist group says it found tech­ni­cal de­vices from botched IDF Novem­ber raid

The Jerusalem Post - - FRONT PAGE - • By KHALED ABU TOAMEH and ANNA AHRONHEIM

Ha­mas’s Izaddin al-Qas­sam mil­i­tary wing claimed on Satur­day that its mem­bers have seized tech­ni­cal de­vices and equip­ment “con­tain­ing big se­crets” dur­ing the botched IDF op­er­a­tion in the south­ern Gaza Strip on Novem­ber 11. Ha­mas is re­fer­ring to the clash with the IDF unit as Sword’s Edge Op­er­a­tion and boasts that its mem­bers were able to un­cover the Is­raeli com­man­dos while they were op­er­at­ing inside the Gaza Strip.

An IDF lieu­tenant-colonel was killed and an­other of­fi­cer was mod­er­ately wounded af­ter a fire­fight erupted with Ha­mas ter­ror­ists dur­ing a Special Forces op­er­a­tion east of Khan Yu­nis. The IDF ex­plained that the purpose of the op­er­a­tion was not to kill or cap­ture ter­ror­ists. The troops, it said, were ex­posed while they “car­ried out a lengthy op­er­a­tion.”

“The en­emy and its se­cu­rity forces should be very wor­ried,” said Abu Obaida, spokesman for the Qas­sam Bri­gades, dur­ing a press con­fer­ence in the Gaza Strip. “The trea­sure of in­for­ma­tion we gained will give us a strate­gic ad­van­tage on the level of the bat­tle of wits with the Zion­ist en­emy.”

He of­fered a one mil­lion dol­lar re­ward and a par­don to any Pales­tinian “col­lab­o­ra­tor” with Is­rael who as­sists in the cap­ture of IDF soldiers and of­fi­cers.

The IDF elite unit that in­fil­trated the Gaza Strip was on a mis­sion to plant es­pi­onage de­vices to spy on his group’s telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion net­work, Abu Obaida claimed.

The IDF com­man­dos, he said, in­fil­trated the Gaza Strip through a “rugged area” and un­der heavy fog. “The unit was equipped with ad­vanced and emer­gency equip­ment,” he added.

Abu Obaida also claimed that IDF Special Forces used fake ID cards with the names of real peo­ple liv­ing in the Gaza Strip. “They used two ve­hi­cles with forged doc­u­ments,” he said. “They also forged doc­u­ments of a char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tion, which the [Is­raeli] force used as a cover for its op­er­a­tion.”

He also claimed that a mem­ber of the IDF unit had pre­vi­ously en­tered and ex­ited the Gaza Strip un­der the cover of an in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion op­er­at­ing there.

Ac­cord­ing to the spokesman, the unit also used forged doc­u­ments to rent a tourist shack in Khan Yu­nis and used it as a meet­ing point for its mem­bers.

Abu Obaida said a Qas­sam pa­trol in­ter­cepted the IDF com­man­dos as they were on their way to carry out their mis­sion and gave chase to the van that was car­ry­ing the elite unit’s com­man­der.

Af­ter ques­tion­ing the pas­sen­gers of the van, he added, the Qas­sam mem­bers be­came sus­pi­cious and de­cided to de­tain them. “As the Qas­sam pa­trol be­gan de­tain­ing them, the [IDF] unit mem­bers opened fire, killing Nur Baraka, the [Qas­sam] field com­man­der, and Mo­hammed al-Qarra, a Qas­sam fighter,” he said. “The Qas­sam fight­ers re­sponded with gun­fire, killing the com­man­der of the unit and wound­ing one of its mem­bers.”

Abu Obaida said that the IDF unit com­man­dos man­aged to snatch both men and

fled the scene, un­der the cover of Is­rael Air Force bom­bard­ments, be­fore the ar­rival of Qas­sam re­in­force­ments.

A he­li­copter that was dis­patched to the area man­aged to res­cue all the mem­bers of the IDF unit, he claimed. Five Qas­sam mem­bers were killed dur­ing the pur­suit and ex­change of gun­fire, he said.

The spokesman said that his group man­aged, af­ter a thor­ough investigation, to un­cover the iden­ti­ties of the mem­bers of the IDF com­man­dos, the na­ture of their mis­sions and the unit they be­longed to. The IDF unit, he claimed, had also car­ried out sev­eral op­er­a­tions in Arab and Mus­lim coun­tries. He did not pro­vide fur­ther de­tails.

Abu Obaida said that the de­tails that were pub­lished on Satur­day were only part of the in­for­ma­tion gained by the Qas­sam Bri­gade dur­ing and af­ter the op­er­a­tion. He pledged that his group will con­tinue to re­spond to Is­raeli “ag­gres­sion” and “am­pu­tate its or­gans that tar­get our peo­ple and land.”

The bri­gade, he said, has de­cided to give Pales­tinian “col­lab­o­ra­tors” and “traitors” a chance to re­pent. Any “col­lab­o­ra­tor” who as­sists in the cap­ture of Is­raeli soldiers and of­fi­cers, he added, will be granted a par­don and re­warded one mil­lion dol­lars.

While the IDF has not com­mented in depth re­gard­ing the com­mando raid, the mil­i­tary ex­plained that the purpose of the Special Forces op­er­a­tion was not to kill or kid­nap, and that the troops were ex­posed while they “car­ried out a lengthy op­er­a­tion.”

Fol­low­ing the Khan Yu­nis shootout, Ha­mas pub­lished pho­tos of eight peo­ple and two ve­hi­cles it said had taken part in the IDF op­er­a­tion, lead­ing Is­rael’s mil­i­tary cen­sor to put out a se­ri­ous warning re­gard­ing any pub­li­ca­tion by Ha­mas on the raid.

“Ha­mas is cur­rently try­ing to de­ci­pher and un­der­stand the in­ci­dent that took place deep inside Gaza (11/11) and any in­for­ma­tion item, even if it is con­sid­ered harm­less by its pub­li­ca­tions, is li­able to en­dan­ger hu­man lives and harm state se­cu­rity,” read the state­ment by the IDF Spokesper­son’s Unit in late Novem­ber.

Warning the pub­lic to “act re­spon­si­bly” – re­gard­less of the cred­i­bil­ity of the de­tails pub­lished by Ha­mas – the mil­i­tary urged that the images, as well as any per­sonal in­for­ma­tion that may have been shared on so­cial me­dia and What­sApp groups or any other me­dia plat­form, not be re-shared.

The mil­i­tary cen­sor­ship put out a sim­i­lar warning on Satur­day night re­gard­ing the press con­fer­ence given by Ha­mas. •

(Suhaib Salem/Reuters)

PALES­TINI­ANS IN­SPECT the re­mains of a ve­hi­cle de­stroyed in an Is­raeli airstrike in Khan Yu­nis on Novem­ber 12.

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