Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 23 September 2019

Son of Hamas co-founder denounces group as working for Iranian interests

Suheib Yousef, whose brother the ‘Green Prince’ secretly worked for the Israelis, says Hamas acts purely out of self-interest

Suheib Yousef, son of Hamas co-founder Hassan Yousef talks to Israeli TV after leaving the terror group and accusing it off corruption in June 2019 (screencapture/Channel 12)  
Suheib Yousef, son of Hamas co-founder Hassan Yousef talks to Israeli TV after leaving the terror group and accusing it off corruption in June 2019 (screencapture/Channel 12)  

A second son of a Hamas co-founder has fled the Palestinian extremist movement, denouncing the group as corrupt and “working for a foreign agenda”.

Suheib Youssef, the 38-year-old son of Hassan Youssef, left his post in Turkey recently and has taken refuge in an unnamed South-East Asian country. Sheikh Youssef is a Hamas leader in the West Bank, who Israeli authorities have previously jailed multiple times. Another of his sons, Mosab, became known as “the Green Prince” after he secretly worked for both Israeli intelligence and his father for a decade, before seeking asylum in the United States.

In an interview with Israel’s Channel 12, Suheib drew a line between him and his brother: “Unlike my brother, I never worked for Israel,” he said, stressing that he never “betrayed” Hamas.

He said his reason for speaking out was disenfranchisement with his father’s group. Hamas “were working for a foreign agenda,” he said. “This isn’t for the Palestinian cause. Instead, they sell the information to Iran in return for financial assistance.”

In the interview, the Israeli reporter Ohad Hemo said that he had met both Suheib’s father and brother many times and that Suheib had reached out to him directly. Suheib is filmed praying in a mosque and walking through a market with the Israeli reporter. In one scene, signs for Cambodian beer Ganzberg are visible in the street.

The extremist group Hamas has controlled the Gaza Strip since winning elections in 2006 and then ousting the Fatah party-dominated Palestinian Authority in a civil war in 2007. Israel and Egypt responded by imposing a land and sea blockade on Gaza aiming to squeeze Hamas out. Today, Gaza is on the brink of economic and humanitarian collapse, the United Nations has warned.

Meanwhile, Hamas’s repressive rule has left little space for internal dissent, even as Palestinians in Gaza are increasingly fed up with its corruption. The Israeli-led siege and continued bombardment have helped Hamas to maintain its violent rule as people see no alternative.

Ultimately, Suheib said it was corruption among Hamas members in Turkey that compelled him to speak publicly.

In Turkey, “Hamas leaders live in fancy hotels and luxury towers, their kids learn at private schools and they are very well paid by Hamas,” he said. “They get between $4,000 [Dh14,700] and $5,000 a month, they have guards, swimming pools, country clubs ... They ate in the best restaurants, I would see them eating at places where one course costs $200.”

Unemployment in Gaza, meanwhile, is more than fifty per cent.

While in Turkey, Suheib said he worked for Hamas’s political branch, which effectively served as an intelligence-gathering network.

“Hamas operates security and military operations on Turkish soil under the cover of civil society,” he said. These operations include monitoring conversations of Palestinians and Israelis, and using Turkish banks to launder Iranian money to Hamas, he said.

Hamas acts purely out of self-interest, he said.

“The point of the attacks in the West Bank is to kill civilians, not for the aim of resistance, nor Jerusalem; not for liberating Palestinian land, and not even because they hate Jews,” he said. “They send out these innocents because they want to export the crisis [from Gaza] to the West Bank.”

He continued: “I want them [Hamas leaders] to send their own children to carry out attacks if they have to. Why doesn’t [Hamas leader] Ismail Haniyeh go to the fence to throw stones?”

In response to the news report, online supporters of Hassan Youssef denounced his two sons as spreading Israeli propaganda. They promoted their narrative online using the Arabic hashtag “We are all your sons.”

Updated: July 4, 2019 07:35 PM

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