Hidden Messages on TV: How Hamas Recruited West Bank Palestinians for Terror Attacks

To prove to one of the men he was really chatting with Hamas, the Koran verse he chose was broadcast on al-Aqsa TV the next day

Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich
Hamas militants take part in the funeral of a fellow Hamas member, Gaza Strip, January 23, 2019.
Hamas militants take part in the funeral of a fellow Hamas member, Gaza Strip, January 23, 2019.Credit: \ IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/ REUTERS
Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich

Hamas recruited dozens of residents of the West Bank and East Jerusalem with Israeli citizenship and used clandestine messaging through its TV station in Gaza, al-Aqsa, the Shin Bet security service said on Wednesday.

According to the Shin Bet, Qutayba al-Nawaja, who was arrested in December 2018, was among the recruits and had been contacted through Facebook.

To prove to al-Nawaja that he was indeed chatting with a member of Hamas' military arm, he was told to choose a verse from the Koran and, the next day, to watch a certain show on al-Aqsa TV – where a presenter would discuss that same verse. Indeed, he chose a verse and the next day it was discussed on al-Aqsa TV.

Another signal was for a presenter to sip a cup of coffee during the broadcast. Among the presenters who abetted the Hamas military arm by conveying messages are Aslam Bader, 30, a resident of Jabaliya, and Raghei Hamatz, 32.

According to the Shin Bet, al-Nawaja was told to commit a suicide attack on a bus in the central Israeli city of Lod, using an explosive belt. Other recruits were sent to carry out tasks such as photographing sites of interest suitable for terror attacks in Jerusalem.

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