The Hamas terror group arrested several members of an “Israeli-directed” spy ring planning “sabotage” in the Gaza Strip, the Hamas Interior Ministry announced on Friday morning.
“The security services discovered a cell directed by the Israeli occupation as it attempted to conduct sabotage against resistance elements,” the ministry said in a statement.
Hamas did not say how many people it had detained and did not provide any evidence of its claims, nor any photos or names of the alleged cell members. It also gave no details on the targets of the cell.
Hamas security services said they had been tracking the cell’s activity for several days before catching them in the act. In addition to capturing the operatives, Hamas agents confiscated equipment and money Israel used to pay its operatives in the spy ring, the ministry claimed.
The spy ring was in direct communication with Israeli intelligence, Hamas said.
Along with the statement, the Hamas Interior Ministry released a propaganda video praising its “men in the arena — the knights of the Interior Ministry.”
The Shin Bet security service declined to comment.
— Raed abu Jarad #Gaza (@Abuya7ya23) July 2, 2020
This is not the first time Hamas has claimed to arrest Gazan collaborators with Israel. In April, Hamas said that it had arrested a number of Palestinians who spied for Israel during a wave of protests at the Gaza border fence 2019, according to Arabic-language daily al-Sharq al-Awsat.
Hamas’s claims come at a time of increased tensions between Israel and the Gaza-based terror group, partially over Israel’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank. The coronavirus crisis has seen escalating desperation in Gaza, with Hamas unable to pay its employees for the better part of two months.
On Thursday, senior officials from Hamas and Fatah, the other main Palestinian faction, held a joint press conference where they promised to pursue “all forms of struggle” should Israel proceed with its intended annexation plan.
Earlier this week, thousands of Gazans protested Israel’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank in Hamas-led demonstration in Gaza City. The demonstrators did not march on the border fence, as in the 2019 Great March of Return protests, and avoided contact with Israeli forces, instead proceeding westward towards the sea.
Although so far both parties have avoided a full-blown confrontation, the Israeli Air Force struck multiple Hamas military targets across the Gaza Strip last week after a rocket fired from Gaza landed in Israeli territory.