Hamas Says It Seized 'Tech Asset' in Botched Gaza Op That Exposes IDF's Methods

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh addresses failed operation during rally to mark 31 years since Hamas' founding

Gaza Hamas leader Ismail Haniya (3rd-R) waves upon his arrival at a rally marking the 31st anniversary of Hamas' founding, in Gaza City December 16, 2018.
SAID KHATIB / AFP

Hamas obtained “a security technology asset that is a real treasure” when it disrupted an Israeli intelligence operation in the Gaza Strip last month, Hamas political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh said Sunday.

Speaking at a rally attended by tens of thousands of people to mark 31 years since Hamas’ formation, Haniyeh claimed that what Hamas captured during the botched operation exposed the Israeli military's operating methods, which will have “implications in the war of minds” between Israel and his Islamist organization.

Haaretz Weekly podcast, Episode 8

Haniyeh promised that additional details would be disclosed at a news conference that Hamas’ military wing, Iz al-Din al-Qassam, would be holding in the coming days.

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

A 41-year-old Israeli officer was killed and another soldier was moderately wounded during the botched operation last month. At least seven Palestinians were said to have been killed during a gun battle that ensued with Israeli forces, including a Hamas military commander. The clash was followed by a massive barrage of rocket fire into Israeli border communities.

Haniyeh also said Iz al-Din al-Qassam knows exactly where the Israeli forces were entering and leaving the Gaza Strip, what was happening during the disrupted operation and how long the force had been in Gaza. He warned the IDF not to send any more troops into Gaza and that any soldiers that entered would be either executed or held prisoner.

Haniyeh added that the mass of people at the rally he was addressing “proves that the Palestinian people support the forces of the resistance.” He promised the organization would continue the struggle to release Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails.

Haniyeh also said that the Palestinian marches along the Gaza border had conveyed three messages: That U.S. President Donald Trump’s peace plan would not be accepted; that the younger generation would continue the fight for the “right of return”; and that the blockade of Gaza was on the international agenda and the process of breaking it had begun.

The West Bank, he said, was “an inseparable part of the struggle,” and that any attempt to make it the basis for Trump’s peace deal would fail. Haniyeh also called on the Palestinian Authority to halt its security cooperation with Israel and not to gamble on trying to negotiate with it. He said he was prepared to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at any time to advance the reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah and to hold elections within three months.

Meanwhile, Iz al-Din al-Qassam announced that it had managed to operate Israeli-made drones that crashed in Gaza because of technical problems. A statement claimed that engineers successfully repaired some of the drones and made them operational, using  some of them to film Sunday's rally.