The Israeli Security Agency, Shin Bet, confirmed in a statement on July 30 that a commander of Hamas’ military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, had escaped to Israel last month.
In the statement, Shin Bet named the commander as 24-year old Izz al-Din Hussein. On June 28, Hussein swam from the Gaza Strip to Israel. “Family problems” and concerns of “persecution and defamation by senior figures in Hamas” caused his escape, according to the Security Agency.
The Israeli Defense Forces shared a video of Hussein’s escape. The Israeli Navy arrested the man after entering Israeli waters. He was later handed over Shin Bet for interrogation.
בהמשך להודעת שב”כ, היום הותר לפרסום כי לפני כחודש עצרו כוחות זרוע הים חשוד שניסה לחדור בשחייה מרצועת עזה לשטחה הימי של ישראל. מערך השליטה הימי איתר את החשוד והכווין אליו את לוחמי פלגה 916 ולוחמי יחידת סנפיר של זרוע הים pic.twitter.com/fWAGHyrEp5
— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) July 30, 2020
Hussein enlisted in the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades in 2013. Five years later, he began working for the brigades’ air-defense units.
According to Shin Bet, Hussein was given an anti-aircraft missile that he kept at his home. He was ordered to launch the missile at an Israeli helicopter if one flew nearby in order to kill or abduct Israeli soldiers.
“Hussein’s activities in Hamas and the vast knowledge he acquired through his work… revealed to the Shin Bet a great deal of intelligence about Hamas,” Shin Bet said in its statement.
Hussein will be tried in Israel. In the Beesheba District Court he was indicted on several security-related charges.
Earlier this month, the al-Arabiya TV reported that a military figure of Hamas had defected to Israel. Nevertheless, the UAE-based channel falsely claimed that this figure was Hamas’ Naval Forces commander, Mohammed Omar Abu Ajwa.
While the defection of Hussein is a major blow to Hamas’ military wing, it is unlikely to have any real consequences of the way the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades operate.
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