Palestinian operatives in the Gaza Strip have disassembled spyware equipment planted by a “collaborator” with Israel in a home adjacent to that of Marwan Issa, the deputy head of the group’s military wing, the pro-Hezbollah al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Monday, citing sources in terror groups in the coastal enclave.
The equipment was intended to capture audio emanating from Issa’s home in the Bureij refugee camp and subsequently transmit it to Israel, the sources told the paper, adding it was part of an attempt to circumvent a recent change in the Hamas leader’s use of communication devices.
The sources also said that armed groups had arrested the Palestinian “collaborator” who planted the equipment near Issa’s home, and later uncovered a wider network of spyware he had installed in other places in Gaza.
In early January, Iyad al-Bozm, the spokesman of the Hamas-run interior ministry, said security forces in Gaza arrested 45 “collaborators” with the Jewish state since an Israeli raid in the Strip went awry late last year.
On November 11, a special forces operation in Gaza, details of which the IDF has kept largely under gag order, turned deadly when undercover soldiers and Palestinian terrorists engaged in a gunfight in Khan Younis, a town located in the southern half of the coastal enclave.
The firefight claimed the lives of an IDF officer and at least seven Palestinian operatives, including a local commander from Hamas’s military wing, the Qassam Brigades.
Abu Obeida, a spokesman for the Qassam Brigades, has said the Israeli undercover soldiers had attempted install equipment to monitor Hamas’s landline communications network.
The sources who spoke to al-Akhbar added that armed groups had also discovered a piece of spyware equipment that a separate Palestinian “collaborator” had planted inside a car belonging to a member of Issa’s staff.
They added that the “collaborator” had confessed to receiving a small spying device from Israel and installing it in a hidden location inside the car.
During the 2014 war in the Gaza Strip, the IDF bombed Issa’s home but did not kill him. The deputy leader of the Qassam Brigades very rarely makes public appearances.
In 2015, however, he made public comments at a conference in Gaza, Ynet, a Hebrew news site, reported at the time. “We are not currently striving for a conflict, but we are continuing to act so that we will be strong in any future conflict,” he said then.
An Islamist terror group that seized control of Gaza in 2007, Hamas seeks to destroy Israel.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.