Israel and Hamas are waging an intelligence war that has become more complex and difficult since Hamas took over Gaza in the summer of 2007 and entrenched its military rule.
Over the past decade, Hamas’ intelligence units have published reports on the arrest (and execution) of dozens of agents who conveyed information to Israel, including information that served for Israeli targeted counterterror operations. Some agents were brought before the camera to tell in detail the story of their treachery, express regret, and reveal Israeli intelligence’s methods of recruitment and deployment.
Gaza’s transformation into a political entity ruled with an iron fist by Hamas, its security forces, and the al-Qassam Brigades poses a challenge to Israeli intelligence when it comes to recruiting and running new agents and maintaining contact with existing ones.
Based on monitoring and interrogation of agents who were revealed, Hamas’ intelligence mechanisms, which invest great effort in identifying and countering Israeli intelligence activity, have outlined Israeli intelligence’s method of activating Palestinian agents who live in Gaza. The following is a translation of the relevant passage in an article in the Al-Qassam Brigades’ Al-Midan booklet (December 2017, p. 24).
Attention must be paid to the military-infiltration operations from within [Gaza] to the outside [Israel], which are no less important than the [other] infiltration operations because of the danger represented by those carrying out these actions, who are mostly agents; hence it is important to learn how these agents are infiltrated, as described below:
The agent is directed by the Zionist intelligence officer to the point of infiltration through the separation fence.
The area is searched by Zionist drones that increase their presence during the infiltration operation and in the area close to the infiltration [point].
Zionist military jeeps come to the vicinity of the separation fence to wait for the agent or his family members (as the agent is nearing the infiltration point at the separation fence).
The intelligence officer orders the agent to toss away his cellular phone before crossing the separation fence.
The agent has to remove his clothing before approaching the Zionist soldiers (this is not a necessary condition that is applied in all cases).
The agent is searched and then taken by a military jeep to the interior.
If the purpose of the infiltration is to meet with the intelligence officer and not to flee Gaza after being discovered by the security mechanisms, the agent is returned to a different point along the separation fence after several hours and in some cases after several days.
Surveillance reveals that the infiltrators come to the separation fence with the Zionist enemy along with their family members, who serve as cover for them as they approach the border to infiltrate and to choose the spots along the border that are well suited to approaching the separation fence.
The family provides cover in the form of a family outing in these areas or in the cabins along the border, an outing in a rented car that was rented at one of the car-rental agencies. The family takes with them the necessary items for an outing to provide cover; they then get out of the car at the farthest point and [carry out] the infiltration toward the separation fence at the point agreed with the Zionist enemy along the separation fence.
Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi is a senior researcher of the Middle East and radical Islam at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He is a co-founder of the Orient Research Group Ltd.. The original article is titled ” Hamas Reports on Israeli Recruitment of Agents in Gaza”