The plan was to execute an attack on one of the towns near the Gaza border; according to the suspect, who was arrested during Operation Protective Edge, the preparations for the mission were in their advances stages. The Shin Bet and the IDF said they thwarted part of the infrastructure organized for the attack.
The suspect, who served as the commander of a cell in Hamas' elite forces, was recruited into the Gaza-based organization in 2010. He trained together with 10 other terrorists who he had not previously known – a compartmentalization method employed by Hamas for security.
Hamas' military wing, Al-Qassam Brigades (Photo: EPA)
He further admitted that earlier in the year the members of the cell performed another training exercise in the Gaza Strip, in an attempt to finalize the details of the mission and prepare for its execution.
Shin Bet investigations have raised the possibility that throughout the regional battalion deployed by Hamas are members of its elite Nukba force, which receive special instructions in camouflage techniques.
The force is trained in guerilla warfare, demolition, anti-tank operations, and sniper fire. The force numbers in the hundreds and are lightly equipped for flexibility – among them are troops whose role is to kidnap soldiers, dead or alive.
Such kidnappings have been attempted during Operation Protective Edge, both in the APC incident and the infiltration into the IDF pillbox near Nahal Oz.
Additional details revealed about Hamas' tunnel enterprise show that throughout the years the digging crews worked in shifts around the clock. Occasionally senior members of the organization would arrive to encourage them – even sitting down for dinner with the construction crews.
One militant who turned himself in to the Shin Bet said that he was in a tunnel for three weeks within the last month, and that he was only provided water and dates until he broke down.
Israeli claims that it identified Hamas rearming during the first humanitarian ceasefire, during which junior officers emerged from hiding to improve their positions and issue new orders. Meanwhile the senior members of Hamas remained in their bunkers.