Is­rael tried to wire­tap Ha­mas in botched mis­sion, group says

The Myanmar Times - - World -

GAZA’S rul­ing Ha­mas said Satur­day that Is­raeli un­der­cover forces had at­tempted to in­stall equip­ment to mon­i­tor the Is­lamic mil­i­tant group’s land­line com­mu­ni­ca­tions net­work dur­ing a botched mis­sion in Novem­ber.

The find­ings of a lengthy in­ves­ti­ga­tion were an­nounced by the Ha­mas mil­i­tary wing, known as the Qas­sam Brigades, in a pre­re­corded TV state­ment.

Ha­mas pre­sented sur­veil­lance footage, as well as pho­tos of drills, chain saws and two pis­tols with si­lencers, to back up its claims.

Ha­mas thwarted an at­tempt to “plant spy­ing de­vices in the Gaza Strip,” a Qas­sam spokesman, iden­ti­fied only as Abu Obeida, said in the state­ment.

Is­rael’s mil­i­tary has not re­leased de­tails about the op­er­a­tion which went awry Nov. 11, lead­ing to the heav­i­est round of cross-bor­der fire, in­clud­ing Ha­mas rock­ets and Is­raeli airstrikes, since a 2014 war be­tween the two sides.

The Ha­mas state­ment de­scribed an Is­raeli mis­sion that al­legedly spanned close to a year.

Abu Obeida said Is­rael brought equip­ment and ve­hi­cles into Gaza through a com­mer­cial cross­ing point be­tween Jan­uary and Oc­to­ber. Fif­teen mem­bers of the unit en­tered Gaza on a foggy night through the perime­ter fence a few days be­fore Nov. 11, the spokesman said.

A woman work­ing with the Is­raeli unit en­tered Gaza sev­eral times, dis­guised as an em­ployee of a hu­man­i­tar­ian or­ga­ni­za­tion, the spokesman said. Mem­bers of the unit used forged IDs of lo­cal Gazans and the doc­u­ments of a char­ity group, he added.

On Nov. 11, the unit was de­tected by Ha­mas fight­ers as it drove near the town of Abas­san in south­ern Gaza. The dis­cov­ery sparked a fire­fight, in which a mem­ber of the un­der­cover unit and two Ha­mas gun­men, in­clud­ing a lo­cal com­man­der, were killed. Five other mil­i­tants were killed in airstrikes as Is­raeli air­crafts pro­vided cover to air­lift the force, in­clud­ing the dead of­fi­cer.

In the tele­vised state­ment, Ha­mas showed low-res­o­lu­tion sur­veil­lance cam­era footage pur­port­edly show­ing two ve­hi­cles be­ing used by the un­der­cover squad. The footage showed some faces of the oc­cu­pants of the ve­hi­cles and what Ha­mas said was the mo­ment its gun­men searched the van.

Ac­cord­ing to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which con­firmed pre­vi­ous re­ports, the fire­fight be­gan when a lo­cal Ha­mas com­man­der, Nour Baraka, or­dered the de­ten­tion of the oc­cu­pants of the van who then shot him with si­lencer pis­tols. In the ex­change of fire, a mem­ber of the Is­raeli force and an­other Ha­mas gun­man were also killed be­fore the van sped away.

Ha­mas said the slain Is­raeli com­man­der of the group was an Arab with the rank of lieu­tenant colonel. –

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