The undercover Israeli troops involved in November's botched operation in the Gaza Strip were detained and questioned by members of Hamas' military wing for 40 minutes before the raid failed, a Qatari news site reported, citing a Hamas source.
The report said that Nur al-Din Barakeh, a senior officer in Hamas' military wing, suspected that the soldiers were lying and decided to transfer them to a Hamas command post. At that point, the Israelis opened fire, killing Barakeh and wounding another commander. They then fled the site in a van.
Hamas returned fire and pursued the Israelis, the report said, leading Israeli helicopters to open fire at the Hamas members and anyone else who tried to approach the fleeing Israelis. The Israelis then headed for an agricultural area east of Khan Younis and were eventually extracted by helicopter. A 41-year-old Israeli officer was killed in the incident.
Massive fire exchanges ensued between Israel and the Palestinians in the days following the failed raid, until a cease-fire was finally reached.
After Hamas discovered the Israeli soldiers, the report added, it succeeded in uncovering a network of collaborators who were working with Israel. The Hamas investigation reportedly also discovered that senior officials from the Palestinian Authority’s intelligence services were collaborating with Israel.
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The report said the Israeli forces sought to install sophisticated listening devices and rented an apartment on the coast near Khan Younis to use as a base. A Palestinian source told the Israel Television News Company Wednesday that the Israeli team had been undercover in Gaza for weeks.
According to the source, the soldiers pretended to work for a Gaza-based welfare association, Al-Basma Club for the Disabled.
The report said the Israeli force was exposed by chance due to a "problem" with some of the passengers in the vehicle, where something apparently "did not conform with customary activity in Palestinian culture."
British online newspaper The Independent reported on Sunday, however, that the special forces were exposed by because of their accents.