A Hamas fighter nabbed last month in a joint Shin Bet and police operation has provided a wealth of information on the terror group’s tunnel-digging in the Gaza Strip, its strategy for a future conflict with Israel, and its methods for obtaining cash from Iran, the Shin Bet said on Tuesday.
The capture of Ibraheem Adel Shehadeh Shaer, 21, a resident of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, was only cleared for publication on Tuesday.
Shaer, a tunnel digger in the group’s armed wing, was arrested at the beginning of July as he tried to pass though the Erez border crossing from Gaza into Israel.
During questioning by security officials, he disclosed a plethora of details about Hamas activities in Rafah, and in particular Hamas’s emergency procedures, as well as its intention to use tunnels dug under the border to attack Israel in a future fight.
Shaer told investigators that in recent months he worked on some of the tunnels and was shown a passage dug from Rafah that led in the direction of the Kerem Shalom border crossing into Israel, the Shin Bet said in a statement sent to Hebrew-language media.
The Hamas member provided data on Hamas tunnels in the Rafah area, including digging locations, access shafts, diggers and the routes of the tunnels. He also revealed that a new road recently laid down by Hamas near the border fence was installed for the purpose of carrying out surprise attacks using vehicles that would speed over the border into Israel.
According to the Shin Bet, Shaer was personally involved in various types of warfare training, including combat training, command methods, use of advanced weapons and sabotage.
During last summer’s Operation Protective Edge, when the Israeli army battled against Gaza militias led by Hamas, Shaer served in the group’s logistics support division and helped in the provision of military equipment and explosives to fighters. He also admitted to taking part in the military action by placing anti-tank charges and helping with observation posts.
Shaer said he was privy to many details about Hamas activities and the organization’s senior figures in recent years. He offered investigators intel on Hamas’s links to Iran and the latter’s military support for the Gaza group.
Iranian support came in the form of cash, advanced weapons and sophisticated electronic equipment meant to interfere with control signals for Israeli drones over the coastal enclave. The Shin Bet said Shaer also briefed them on Iranian training for Hamas fighters in the use of paragliders capable of penetrating Israeli airspace.
The fighter provided details about Hamas’s elite units, the organization’s anti-tank and anti-aircraft capabilities, the location of its observation posts and the three-kilometer range of its photographic capabilities into Israel.
In July, Hamas published a short video clip that it claimed showed the former chief of staff of the IDF, Lt. Gen. (res.) Benny Gantz, within rifle range near the border fence with the Gaza Strip during the 2014 fighting in the coastal enclave.
Shaer said Hamas has altered its combat strategy in the wake of Protective Edge, during which IDF forces penetrated deep into the Strip with the goal of destroying a network of cross-border tunnels that were used by Hamas to launch attacks inside Israel.
Shaer told investigators that material for Hamas’s war infrastructure is now being brought into Gaza under the guise of reconstruction programs aimed at repairing the damage caused during the fighting, when thousands of buildings were destroyed.
He also confirmed that fighters kept explosives and other materiel in their homes because Hamas commanders feared the group’s weapons stores would be bombed by Israel. Shaer noted that he had stored several explosive charges of 50 kilograms each in his own home.
On July 31, an indictment was filed against Shaer in the Beersheba District Court for being a member of, and engaging in activities, with a banned organization, attempted murder, contact with an enemy agent, forbidden military training, and various firearms charges.