Ihab Abu Nahal.
(photo credit: SHIN BET)
Security forces announced on Sunday the arrest of a Gazan man who was a member of a terrorist group affiliated with Islamic State as he tried to pass into Israel via the Erez border crossing.
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) named the suspect as 27-year-old Ihab Saed Abd al-Rahman Abu Nahal, from Gaza City. He was arrested in late July on his way to Qatar, where he wished to take part in an employment program for Gazan teachers.
The suspect took part in several attacks against the IDF during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza last year, as well as other attacks, the Shin Bet said.
“Abu Nahal was a member of the Islamist faction that is affiliated with Islamic State, and which is known as ‘Unity of God.’ This faction belongs to the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) in the Gaza Strip,” it said.
The faction is a part of the PRC’s military wing, known in Arabic as the Al-Nasser Salah al-Deen Brigades.
Abu Nahal said during questioning that he began his activities in Hamas’s military wing, where he received training in combat, camouflage, and how to set up lookouts. He later allegedly took part in tunnel digging activities.
The suspect then left Hamas to join the PRC, according to the Shin Bet.
In 2010, Abu Nahal was allegedly chosen by the PRC’s leaders to carry out a suicide bombing against Israeli targets on the Israel-Egypt border, and received intensive training for his mission.
He then left Gaza, entering the Sinai Peninsula through a cross-border smuggling tunnel, ahead of a planned attack on an Israeli bus near Eilat. The plot failed, however, “for a variety of reasons,” the Shin Bet said.
In 2014, Abu Nahal joined the Lua Al-Tawid [Unity of God] faction, a Salafist group that is part of the PRC, and continued to take part in attacks against Israel.
Despite his membership in a separate Salafist armed group, Abu Nahal said Hamas recruited him for attacks against Israel during the 2014 summer conflict.
He then embedded himself with Hamas’s Nahba special forces in northern Gaza, where he planted and set off explosive devices against IDF units operating in the sector.
“To that end, they used the home of a surgeon who is a trusted Hamas confidant,” the Shin Bet said.
“Abu Nahal’s interrogation underlines, once again, Hamas’s cynical use of Israeli sensitivity to humanitarian needs,” the intelligence organization said, referring to the use of a medical official’s home as an operational base to attack the IDF.
Southern District prosecutors charged Abu Nahal with a range of severe terrorism offenses on August 30 at the Beersheba District Court. The charges include contact with a foreign agent, activities in a banned organization, banned military training, carrying and moving illegal weapons, plotting murder, and attempted murder.