The Israeli Special Forces involved in a recent botched Gaza Strip raid had posed as medical personnel from one of the aid groups operating in the coastal enclave, British newspaper The Independent reported Sunday.
The operation saw an IDF officer killed and another wounded, leading to a massive wave of rocket fire on southern Israeli communities. Seven Palestinians were also killed when the November 11 operation went wrong, and the IDF unit was forced to call in air support to help them flee.
An Independent journalist who went into the Gaza Strip obtained new information by interviewing Hamas members as well as residents living in the Khan Yunis area, where the incident had taken place.
According to the report, the Israeli force used "detailed but fake" IDs of real Gaza citizens from different areas of the strip. Hamas has since detained and questioned all of the Palestinians whose identities were allegedly stolen by the IDF troops after their identity cards were discovered in the wreckage of the Volkswagen minibus the Israeli force reportedly used in its raid. Qassem said the ID cards were "very accurate," including full names, ID numbers and details of the Palestinian residents.
Furthermore, the Israeli troops "were posing as NGO workers, there were women in the car as well. They used this to justify why they were stealing into Gaza and had a story prepared should they be questioned," Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem told The Independent.
Another Hamas official, who was not identified in the report, said the Israelis "told the fighters at the checkpoint that they were delivering patients back from clinics to their homes and had a wheelchair in the back of the van. They presented their ID cars but the (fighters) manning the checkpoint were suspicious as their accents and voices did not match the areas where they said they were from."
The Israeli forces were reportedly held at the checkpoint until the Hamas commander in Khan Yunis, Nour Baraka, was called to the scene and decided to take them in for questioning at a Hamas facility. It was then, according to the report, that the IDF troops opened fire.
Local residents told The Independent that Baraka knew the family of the woman the force claimed to have come to aid. He called the family and confirmed she had already passed away.
A Hamas official told the British paper the Israeli force was in Gaza to replace listening and surveillance devices that had been laid before.