Hamas Searching Gaza for Van Used in Botched Israeli Special Operation, Report Claims

Lebanese newspaper cites Hamas sources as saying the organization is looking for locals who may have assisted the Israeli special forces team

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Palestinian militants of the Islamist movement Hamas' military wings attend the funeral of seven Palestinians killed during an Israeli special forces operation in the Gaza Strip, on November 12, 2018.
Palestinian militants of the Islamist movement Hamas' military wings attend the funeral of seven Palestinians killed during an Israeli special forces operation in the Gaza Strip, on November 12, 2018.Credit: SAID KHATIB / AFP
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Hamas security forces in Gaza are searching for a van that they suspect was involved in a botched Israeli special forces operation that left seven operatives and an Israeli officer dead, Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported on Saturday.

The report said Hamas is also searching for Gaza residents who may have assisted the operation.

According to the report, Hamas' military wing captured spy gear that the Israeli troops planned to use to wiretap the group's internal communications system. Citing Hamas sources, the newspaper said the operation was an attempt to replace devices that were discovered several months ago.

On Thursday, the Israel Television News Company reported that a Hamas probe of the incident showed the special forces team entered Gaza through one of the official border crossings, where its members had to provide identity documents. The team worked out of a residence rented on its behalf under the cover of a humanitarian organization.

>> Hamas crowdsourcing intel from Israeli public with photos of 'IDF fighters involved in Gaza raid' | Analysis

Haniyeh: We'll resist U.S. peace plan

Also Saturday, Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh said the organization will resist Washington's "deal of the century," including through . Haniyeh, who spoke via satellite at a conference in Tehran, added that Hamas seeks to form a strong strategic alliance to meet the challenges facing the Palestinians.

>> Netanyahu and IDF vs. Israeli ministers: How Gaza war was avoided at last minute | Analysis

Earlier this week, an Iranian news agency reported that Haniyeh had planned to attend the conference in Iran but that Egypt resisted out of concern over Hamas' growing ties to Tehran. Hamas sources denied the report and said had never planned to attend.

Meanwhile, Hamas is continuing to participate in Egyptian-mediated negotiations for a reconciliation deal with Fatah, with a delegation headed by Haniyeh's deputy visiting Cairo. A Fatah delegation is set to travel to Cairo on Sunday for talks with Egyptian intelligence, according to reports in Ramallah.

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