Held by Shin Bet, top Hamas official reveals vital tunnel intel

Held by Shin Bet, top Hamas official reveals vital tunnel intel

Bilal Razaineh, who was detained as he entered Israel in November, providing info on underground passages, terror group’s positions and operatives

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

A tunnel reaching from Gaza into Israel, seen in a picture released by the IDF on April 18, 2016. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
A tunnel reaching from Gaza into Israel, seen in a picture released by the IDF on April 18, 2016. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

A high-ranking Hamas operative was arrested by Israeli security last month after crossing the border from the Gaza Strip into Israel, the Shin Bet security agency said in a statement Wednesday, announcing that his interrogation provided vast intelligence concerning the Palestinian terror group’s operations in the coastal enclave.

Bilal Razaineh, 24, was interrogated by Israel’s internal security agency after he was caught attempting to enter Israeli territory on November 27. Razaineh has reportedly been a member of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s armed wing, for nearly a decade, and his interrogation yielded information about the terror group’s tunnel-digging operations beneath the Gaza Strip.

According to the Shin Bet, Razaineh was involved in Hamas’s military operations, including tunnel digging and sniper training. He provided Israel with intelligence concerning Hamas tunnel routes in the northern Gaza Strip and the manner in which Hamas is excavating its subterranean networks, as well insider information about Hamas positions and operatives, the Shin Bet said.

His brother, Mustafa Razaineh, is a high-ranking member of the group’s armed wing. As head of Mustafa’s security, he had access to a high level of security. Both are considered high-ranking operatives.

Hamas operative Bilal Razaineh, December 2016 (Shin Bet)
Hamas operative Bilal Razaineh, December 2016 (Shin Bet)

According to a December 1 report from Egyptian news site Al-Mogaz, Razaineh fled the Gaza Strip amid an internal investigation into allegations of corruption in the inner circles of Hamas’s top security officials.

Investigators learned from Razaineh about Hamas’s use of civilian facilities for military purposes. The Razaineh family home served a base for tunnel construction and arms storage, and Mustafa Razaineh and other high-ranking Hamas operatives hid in the Kamel Adwan hospital in the Gaza Strip during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge, from which they commanded operations for the war against the IDF.

The Shin Bet filed charges against Razaineh in the Beersheba District Court on Wednesday, which including membership in a terrorist organization and arms-related offenses.

News of Razaineh’s disappearance was reported in the Palestinian press in early December, which came as a surprise to Hamas officials.

Mustafa Razaineh, according to a Fatah report, was an Israeli informant during the 2014 war in the Gaza Strip.

A few days after Razaineh fled the Gaza Strip, two other high-ranking Hamas operatives entered Israel, a Jordanian news report said in early December.

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