WASHINGTON – The Israeli handler of a Palestinian informant revealed his identity Wednesday night to plead for US authorities not to deport the former spy on Hamas.
Gonen Ben-Itzhak, a Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) agent who for 10 years worked with Mosab Hassan Yousef, appeared before cameras for the first time at a dinner honoring Yousef and other recipients of the Endowment for Middle East Truth’s Rays of Light in the Darkness award.
Ben-Itzhak, who was previously referred to by the media only as “G” and had his face obscured on camera, said he traveled to America to testify on Yousef’s behalf at an immigration hearing scheduled for the end of the month in San Diego.
Yousef, son of Hamas leader Sheik Hassan Yousef, is credited by Israel with helping thwart countless terror attacks. He is now being threatened with deportation after the US turned down his request for asylum, since statements in his autobiography about working for Hamas are being interpreted as providing material support to the US-designated terrorist organization, despite his explanation that they were intended to undermine the group.
Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado), who was also honored at Wednesday’s dinner, said he was circulating a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano urging that the US not deport Yousef.
The Department of Homeland Security declined to comment on his case due to privacy and pending litigation.
Sources close to the case, however, indicate they have received reports that the department understands the complexities of his case but faces limited options under the law.
That has given some of Yousef’s supporters hope that his June 30 hearing will turn out in his favor.
Ben-Itzhak stressed that he will be doing his best to make sure that happens, telling the audience, “Mosab is not a terrorist!”
“He risked his life every day in order to prevent” violence, he said.
“I need to come to the courthouse in San Diego and tell the judge the
truth … And the truth is Mosab always prevented killings.”
Yousef, for his part, called Ben-Itzhak “a true friend” who was always
concerned about his safety. He said that when he was in the vicinity of
Hamas terrorists that Israel was targeting, “they canceled entire
operations because of his [Ben-Itzhak’s] command so my life wouldn’t be
Yousef’s advocates have warned that he could be killed if deported to
the West Bank, but he himself maintained that he would keep up his
fight against intolerance and terror regardless of where he ended up.
“Nobody’s going to stop me,” he declared.