Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 April 2019

Hamas offers $1 million reward for identities of Israeli special forces

The group released footage of botched commando raid in Gaza

Damaged buildings in Gaza City on November 13, 2018, after overnight Israeli air strikes. AFP
Damaged buildings in Gaza City on November 13, 2018, after overnight Israeli air strikes. AFP

Hamas has offered a $1 million reward for information about the Israeli special forces who led a botched mission into the Gaza Strip in November.

The group, which rules the coastal enclave, said that it had discovered that the Israeli raid on November 11 was aimed at planting spying devices on its communications network inside the territory. Israel has imposed partial censorship on its media on the subject.

The raid turned deadly when the undercover soldiers were spotted near the southern Gazan city of Khan Younis. One Israeli officer and several Hamas members were killed. Hamas released surveillance footage of the Israeli forces’ vehicle at a press conference.

A spokesman for Hamas’ military wing, the Al Qassam Brigades, said that 15 members of an elite Israeli military unit had infiltrated Gaza via the border fence and travelled in the enclave using cars disguised as vehicles belonging to a local charity.

Their goal was "establishing a spy system to eavesdrop on the communications network of the resistance in the Gaza Strip", Abu Obeida said, showing video footage of what he said was the soldiers in action.

Hamas also managed to capture equipment used by the group, Abu Obeida added, promising a million dollars to any local "collaborator" who would supply Hamas with information about the operation.

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On Tuesday, Hamas said it had arrested 45 Gazan "collaborators" with Israel following the Khan Yunis incident.

Hamas had already published photos of eight people and two vehicles it said were linked to the operation, prompting the Israeli army censor to appeal to the public and media not to republish the images.

The incident prompted Hamas to vow revenge and sparked the deadliest flare-up between the two sides since a 2014 war.

A November 13 ceasefire brokered by Egypt ended the fighting that had raised fears of another war between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza.

Hamas and its allies have fought three wars with Israel since 2008 and the Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli blockade for more than a decade.

Israel says the measure is necessary to isolate Hamas and prevent it from obtaining weapons, though critics say it amounts to collective punishment of the territory's two million residents.

Updated: January 13, 2019 07:28 PM

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