Hamas higher-up in Gaza pulled trigger on teens’ abduction

Abed a-Rahman Ghaminat, deported to the Strip under Gilad Shalit deal, coordinated attack with top Hamas official in Turkey

Avi Issacharoff

Avi Issacharoff, The Times of Israel's Middle East analyst, fills the same role for Walla, the leading portal in Israel. He is also a guest commentator on many different radio shows and current affairs programs on television. Until 2012, he was a reporter and commentator on Arab affairs for the Haaretz newspaper. He also lectures on modern Palestinian history at Tel Aviv University, and is currently writing a script for an action-drama series for the Israeli satellite Television "YES." Born in Jerusalem, he graduated cum laude from Ben Gurion University with a B.A. in Middle Eastern studies and then earned his M.A. from Tel Aviv University on the same subject, also cum laude. A fluent Arabic speaker, Avi was the Middle East Affairs correspondent for Israeli Public Radio covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in Iraq and the Arab countries between the years 2003-2006. Avi directed and edited short documentary films on Israeli television programs dealing with the Middle East. In 2002 he won the "best reporter" award for the "Israel Radio” for his coverage of the second intifada. In 2004, together with Amos Harel, he wrote "The Seventh War - How we won and why we lost the war with the Palestinians." A year later the book won an award from the Institute for Strategic Studies for containing the best research on security affairs in Israel. In 2008, Issacharoff and Harel published their second book, entitled "34 Days - The Story of the Second Lebanon War," which won the same prize.

The three kidnapped and murdered  teens, from left to right: Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-ad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach (photo credit: Courtesy)
The three kidnapped and murdered teens, from left to right: Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-ad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach (photo credit: Courtesy)

The Hamas leader responsible for sponsoring and planning the June 12 abduction of three Israeli teenagers was released from an Israeli prison during the 2011 prisoner swap for IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, and had been involved in the September 1996 killing of IDF soldier Sharon Edri, Palestinian security officials said on Wednesday.

The three teenagers were killed shortly after they were picked up from a hitchhiking post in the West Bank, south of Jerusalem.

The officials said that although the Hamas leadership repeatedly denied involvement in the attack, the terror organization’s military and political wings knew about the plans in advance and had approved similar activities.

Abed a-Rahman Ghaminat, one of the heads of a cell in Zurif (a village not far from Bethlehem) and a former resident of the village, was the Hamas military wing’s appointed leader over the Hebron area. Ghaminat was released from an Israeli prison in October 2011, and was deported to the Gaza Strip.

Like many others who were freed and deported as part of the Shalit deal, Ghaminat joined a special office under the Hamas military wing in Gaza, which operated under the leadership of the Turkey-based Saleh al-Arouri, one of the heads of the organization living in Ankara. The office hired several of the exiled prisoners to oversee the terror cells in the West Bank. Working from Gaza, Ghaminat was responsible for the Hebron area, along with another ex-prisoner released under the Shalit deal, Ayed Dodin, a Hamas man and resident of Dura, south of Hebron.

Ghaminat and Dodin attempted in past years to carry out numerous terror attacks in the Hebron area, and were responsible for raising the money for Hamas activities. Traveling through Egypt, the two also visited Turkey and Qatar more than once in the past two years to coordinate the Hamas schemes with Arouri, as well as with other political heads of Hamas living abroad.

Ghaminat was involved in the abduction and killing of IDF soldier Edri in 1996, as well as in the 1997 bombing of Café Apropo in Tel Aviv, in which three women were killed.

According to the Palestinian sources, Mahmoud Kawasme — another prisoner freed in the 2011 deal — worked under Ghaminat in Gaza. Kawasme recruited his brother Hussam and transferred NIS 200,000 to his account (according to the Shin Bet interrogation) to carry out the kidnapping. Hussam Kawasme was indicted in an Israeli court last week.

The three teenagers – Gil-ad Shaar, 16, Naftali Fraenkel, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19 – were buried by the abductors/killers Marwan Kawasme and Amer Abu Aysha on a plot of land that Hussam Kawasme bought, not far from the village of Halhul.  The two killers are still on the run.

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