Israel says Hamas tried to enlist Israelis as unsuspecting couriers for weapons

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

A fake ad used as part of a Hamas plot to use unsuspecting Israelis as couriers for weapons. (Courtesy Shin Bet)
A fake ad used as part of a Hamas plot to use unsuspecting Israelis as couriers for weapons. (Courtesy Shin Bet)

The Shin Bet security agency reveals it has uncovered a Hamas plot in which the terror group used fake social media profiles to try to task unsuspecting Israelis with delivering weapons for use in terror attacks in Israel, an effort that began before the war in the Gaza Strip.

According to the agency, the operation was carried out by Hamas’s so-called West Bank headquarters, a unit involved in advancing terror attacks against Israel from the West Bank.

On December 18, IDF troops raided a site in Gaza belonging to the unit, seizing documents and computers that revealed the terror group’s efforts to carry out attacks from the West Bank, the agency says.

One of the documents revealed that Hamas operatives in Gaza maintained contact with Jewish Israelis from the Jerusalem area. In September 2023, the individuals were tasked by Hamas operatives to carry out deliveries in Israel and the West Bank, according to the Shin Bet.

Several other Jewish Israelis were also in contact with Hamas operatives who used fake social media profiles, which the Shin Bet says were posing as Israeli expats looking to have items delivered. The Shin Bet says the Facebook profiles published posts in various groups looking for delivery people all over the country.

After initial contact, the Shin Bet says conversations moved to WhatsApp, with the Hamas operatives instructing the scheme’s victims on the delivery tasks. The Hamas operatives never called and only used text-based messaging, the agency says.

The victims were tasked with delivering items, receiving cash, purchasing gifts, and leaving them at various addresses without coordinating with a recipient, according to the Shin Bet. Among the locations where the victims dropped off gifts were a synagogue, a cemetery, and the doorstep of several homes, it says.

The Shin Bet has assessed that the Hamas operatives sought to train the victims to deliver innocuous items, to later take advantage of them to unknowingly deliver weapons or explosive devices to terror operatives in Israel, or place them in public areas and other sites the terror group wished to target.

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