On January 12, the Palestinian Hamas Movement revealed new details about the failed Israeli Intelligence operation inside the Gaza Strip last November, which led to a military escalation in the region.
A spokesman of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades [the military wing of Hamas], Abu Obaida, said during a press briefing that 15 members of the Israeli military’s “Sayeret Matkal” elite special operations unit participated in the operation, which was aimed at planting advanced signal intelligence systems inside Gaza in order to spy on Hamas communications.
According to Abu Ubaida, the Israeli unit trained for the operation from January to October of 2018. Furthermore, the two specially-modified vehicles, which were used in the operation, were smuggled into Gaza through a humanitarian crossing.
A day ahead of the operation, the unit entered Gaza from Israel through a hope in the separation fence at foggy night in an undisclosed area. The unit’s members had fake Palestinian IDs and forged documents of humanitarian workers.
No local collaborators were involved in the operation, which failed when Nur Barake, a deputy commander of an elite unit of al-Qassam, suspected one of the Israeli unit’s vehicles while it was moving through the city of Khan Yunis in the southern part of Gaza.
Barak and few fighters of al-Qassam stopped the vehicle and became aware that something was wrong when the Israeli agents showed them their fake IDs. The Palestinian commander attempted to detain the agents who responded by opening fire. During the firefight, Baraka and an Israeli service member, which was identified as Mahmud Khir al-Din, were killed.
The incident led to the immediate cancellation of the operation. The Israeli Air Force and artillery began targeting Qassam fighters chasing the intelligence unit. This allowed the agents to withdrew to an open area near Khan Yunis, where an Israeli helicopter evacuated them.
During the press briefing, al-Qassam spokesman shared a video of the Israeli unit’s movements inside Gaza. Several photos of the equipment left behind by the unit were also presented.
The spokesman went on to offer a reward of a 1 million U.S. Dollars to any local collaborator with the Israeli intelligence who would defect and “hunt” one of its operators.
“Israel should be concerned about the trove of information we have,” Abu Ubaida said.
The failure of the operation was a huge blow to the Israeli intelligence. However, this incident reveals a serious weakens of the internal security in the Gaza Strip.
Photos of the Israeli unit equipment: