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The story that I published Wednesday about former top Shin Bet informant Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, a Hamas leader in the West Bank, prompted many responses. Fatah used the commotion to paint Hamas as "unpatriotic" while Hamas waited several hours before releasing the standard "this is all part of Zionist propaganda against the Palestinian people" response.

Arab television commentators tried to portray the story as an attempt by the Shin Bet to draw attention away from the "failure" in Dubai. In one interview I was asked by a news anchor on the BBC network in Arabic how I could not see the connection between the two events.

All in all, this public relations campaign by Mosab to promote his book was planned well before someone in Dubai thought to hold a press conference to identify 15 more suspects.

This is in essence the almost unimaginable story of Mosab, 32, who decided to go against everything that he had been taught by his father, family, religion and surroundings. This heavy, even heartbreaking story, is about a young Palestinian who turned his father in to the Shin Bet in order to save him from being assassinated. Mosab even used his mother by sending her to his father in hiding, allowing IDF troops to follow her to his father's location.

Sheikh Hassan Yousef released a message on Wednesday saying the article was not true. I am saddened that he has been hurt by the personal dimension of this story.

I have always believed that if there is someone in Hamas that Israel would be able to talk with, it would be Sheikh Hassan Yousef. I met him in prison in 2004 while conducting interviews with my colleague Amos Harel for our book "The Seventh War" about the second intifada. The Sheikh is an exceptional man who does not support the use of violence despite the fact that he is part of Hamas. He used to tell his son Mosab that it is important to protect even the life of a cricket in a field. The Sheikh was very interested in Israeli society and at a certain point in our acquaintance even tried to pass along calming messages to the government of Ariel Sharon.

Unfortunately, Hamas in Damascus was not like the Sheikh. They attacked him politically more than once and at one point even threatened him not to participate in parliamentary elections but in the end he was elected as a Hamas parliamentary representative. His son Mosab accompanied him during this whole period, wearing his leather jacket, and sporting a hair cut not fashionable for the son of a senior Hamas official. But circumstances, developments and mainly the faith of Mosab led him to do what he did. Mosab's decision to tell his story and not to hide anymore is based on his deep faith in the righteousness of his path, his desire to save human life and to send a message against violence and in favor of peace.

Last week, Sheikh Hassan Yousef was moved to the Ketziot prison in the Negev. Only this week did he learn that his son was a Shin Bet agent. I can only hope that he will forgive his son and adopt his son's doctrine, even if it was a path not acceptable to him.

Posted by Avi Issacharoff on February 25, 2010

Previous posts:

When Palestinians keep Israelis safe

Who's afraid of Israeli far-rightists?

Israel and Palestinians pass the Jericho test

Media failed in Dubai hit, not Mossad

Iran in the cross-hairs