Hamas arrested 45 Palestinians who were allegedly Israeli “spies and collaborators,” linked to a botch Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) raid, Hamas interior ministry spokesman Iyad al-Bozum said in a statement on January 8th.
The Palestinians were allegedly recruited by Israel and have been arrested following the failed IDF covert mission in the Gaza Strip on November 11th.
The security services were able to arrest 45 agents after the security incident east of Khan Yunis last November and they are under investigation,” Hamas’ interior ministry spokesman Iyad al-Bozum said in a statement. No additional information was provided, it is unclear if the arrested suspects played any direct role in the incursion.
The arrested Palestinians were allegedly recruited by Israeli agents over the phone and social media, most often by blackmail. Despite Hamas managing to arrest “many spies” over the years, the Israelis continue to recruit Palestinian agents to “help them commit crimes against our people,” the Hamas spokesman said, appealing to those who are being coerced by the IDF to turn themselves in.
The November 11 special forces operation, details of which the Israeli military has kept largely secret, turned deadly when the undercover soldiers were spotted near Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip.
The ensuing firefight claimed the lives of an Israeli army officer and seven Palestinian militants, including a local commander from Hamas’ military wing.
“Hamas is attempting to understand and analyze the incident that occurred in Gaza on November 11 and any information, even if it seems harmless by those who distribute it, can endanger lives and put state security at risk,” the army said at the time.
Following the incident, Hamas published photos of eight people and two vehicles allegedly linked to the IDF operation. The individuals in the pictures were not identified by Hamas itself.
In response, Hamas and Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine launched over 400 rockets and projectiles into southern Israel, prompting the IDF to respond by striking over 150 targets in the Palestinian enclave.
Following the two-day escalation, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman resigned, as a result of an Egypt-brokered ceasefire deal, which he considered a “capitulation to terror.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assumed the Defense Minister seat, in addition to already being the Health Minister and Foreign Minister.