Israeli Attempts to Kill Hamas Officials Thwarted in Recent Months, Report Says

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Palestinian police officers loyal to Hamas march during a graduation ceremony in Gaza City April 29, 2019.
Palestinian police officers loyal to Hamas march during a graduation ceremony in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, April 29, 2019. Credit: \ IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/ REUTERS

Hamas has thwarted Israeli attempts to kill senior members of its military wing in recent months, according to a report in the Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar that cited security sources in the organization.

According to the report, Israel attempted the killings following a botched special forces operation in Khan Yunis. The sources further told the newspaper that unlike previous direct attempts to kill Hamas officials, this time Israel used "silent methods" meant to leave no traces and that cannot be concretely tied to it.

The newspaper quoted Hamas sources as saying that last month, the group arrested someone working with Israel who sought to poison the food of a senior member of the group's military wing. The report did not mention the member's name, but said a successful poisoning would have been a major blow to the organization.

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The report also said that steps taken by Hamas, including additional clarification of security guidelines and a wide-scale investigation, was instrumental in thwarting Israel's plan.

"Israel tried to return to the methods it used in the 1970s against senior members of the Palestinian organizations," the sources told the newspaper.

Another incident described in the report was an alleged attempt to kill another senior member of Hamas' military wing by sending him a booby-trapped package. Hamas' security forces, the report said, managed to obtain the package and dismantle it before it arrived at its destination.

Several suspects were arrested after an investigation connected them to the package, the report said.   

Hamas sources claimed that Israel made these attempts in order to restore deterrence and dignity to Israel's security forces following the bungled Khan Yunis operation.

According to the report, in addition to these efforts, Israel has also worked in recent months to recruit Palestinian agents by offering money or attempting bribery, while continuing attempts to wiretap senior officials in Palestinian groups in Gaza.

On Tuesday, Hamas launched a drill "to test the readiness" of its forces "for a scenario of an extensive attempt to harm public order and stability in the Gaza Strip." According to reports in Palestinian media, Hamas security forces announced that the alert level was raised to its highest, and militants were called up for duty.

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