Hamas boasts of ‘persuading Israeli spies to repent’

Gazan group claims more collaborators confessed than in 2010 campaign; Arab media say Israel is trying to recruit new agents

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

A mural in Gaza in the previous anti-collaboration campaign reads 'Repentance or death,' September 2010. (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
A mural in Gaza in the previous anti-collaboration campaign reads 'Repentance or death,' September 2010. (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Hamas on Wednesday boasted of its success in persuading purported collaborators with Israel to admit their crime and repent, part of a Gaza-wide campaign to counter Israeli espionage.

Ibrahim Salah, a spokesman for Hamas’s Interior Ministry, announced that the number of Gaza residents who “repented and returned to the embrace of their people” was higher over the past 15 days, since the start of the campaign, than the number of repenting spies in the entire three-month period of a previous campaign in 2010.

“We assert that all those who repented and returned to the embrace of their people were not and will not be arrested. All their statements were collected far from the security headquarters, remaining secret. Now, they live a normal life after ridding themselves from the filth of treachery and collaboration,” wrote Salah on his Facebook page.

Since its bloody takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, Hamas has been engaged in cracking down on Israeli agents. A special section of the Interior Ministry’s website has been dedicated to the anti-collaboration campaign, including video testimonials by ostensibly reformed spies describing the methods of their recruitment by Israel. 

Last November, in the wake of operation Pillar of Defense, Hamas operatives summarily executed six suspected Israeli collaborators on a Gaza street, claiming the six had filmed Hamas positions on behalf of Israel. One man’s body was dragged behind a motorcycle as crowds cheered.

In January, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh denied allegations that Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad succeeded in recruiting a staff member in his office.

On Wednesday, the London-based daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat  reported that Israel has recently intensified its efforts to recruit young Palestinian men through social networks, particularly Facebook.

Quoting unnamed security sources in the Gaza Strip, the daily reported that a woman claiming to be a resident of Jaffa contacted a young Palestinian man active “in one of the resistance movements” in Gaza. The woman showed romantic interest in the man, enticing him to approach the border with Israel, where the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, arrested him and tried to recruit him.

Many young Palestinian men recently arrested by Hamas admitted they were recruited by Israel through similar methods, the daily reported.

Salah, the Hamas spokesman, said the Hamas government clemency offer will only last until April 11, at which time offenders will face “the shame and punishment which they deserve.”

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