Hamas claims to foil Israeli attempt to spy on one of its Gaza leaders
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Hamas claims to foil Israeli attempt to spy on one of its Gaza leaders

Report says Palestinian operatives arrested a ‘collaborator’ who planted spyware near the home of Qassam Brigades deputy chief

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, take part in a ceremony on December 18, 2016, in Gaza City, in memory of one of their leaders, Mohamed Zaouari, who was killed in Tunisia. (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)
Members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, take part in a ceremony on December 18, 2016, in Gaza City, in memory of one of their leaders, Mohamed Zaouari, who was killed in Tunisia. (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

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.

Palestinians stand next to the remains of a car allegedly used by Israeli special forces during a raid in Gaza, which was was later destroyed in an Israeli airstrike, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on November 12, 2018. (Said Khatib/AFP)

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.

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