Shin Bet says it nabbed Arab Israeli Hamas agent who posed as aid worker

Aya Khatib allegedly diverted hundreds of thousands of shekels in funds earmarked for Gaza needy to terror group to aid in tunnel building

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

Aya Khatib (Shin Bet)
Aya Khatib (Shin Bet)

The Shin Bet security service announced on Saturday that it had arrested an Arab Israeli woman who allegedly used her position as a humanitarian worker on behalf of the needy in Gaza to funnel money, supplies and intelligence to the Hamas terror group.

Aya Khatib, 31, from the northern town of Ar’ara, was recruited by a pair of fighters from Hamas’s military wing, the agency said in a statement, though it did not specify the date of her recruitment.

Khatib was arrested last month, but her identity and details of her case had been held until Sunday.

As part of her relationship with the two Hamas agents — Muhammad Falafel and Muhammad Khalawa — Khatib transferred hundreds of thousands of shekels to the terror group “while scamming aid organizations and innocent civilians who donated funds with the aim of reaching patients and the needy” in the Gaza Strip, according to the Shin Bet, which said part of the money went directly toward financing terror activity, such as attack tunnel construction.

In addition, Khatib transferred equipment for use by Hamas’s military wing, the Shin Bet said, without providing further detail.

“The investigation findings indicate that Khatib also provided intelligence to Hamas, including details on the movement of [IDF] troops during one of the fighting rounds with the Gaza Strip,” the Shin Bet added.

Last week, dozens of Arab Israelis demonstrated outside the Haifa Magistrate’s Court in solidarity with Khatib, Ynet reported.

The protesters waved photos of the defendant with her two children and asserted her innocence. A similar demonstration in support of the woman two weeks earlier was attended by Joint List MK Yousef Jabareen.

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