Hamas warns of Internet game trap by Shin Bet

Young player tells Hamas he was asked by anonymous player on Ikariam game to provide information on armed Gazan groups.

311_Palestinian internet cafe (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
311_Palestinian internet cafe
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip have warned their supporters against using the Ikariam online strategy game on the pretext that the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) uses it to recruit Palestinians as collaborators.
The popular game is set in the era of classical Greece on an archipelago, where players have to manage their resources to extend their imperium from a small settlement on a forsaken island to a complex network of cities and colonies.
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The warning, the first of its kind, came after a young Palestinian man complained to Hamas’s “Internal Security Apparatus” that he had been asked by anonymous players of the online game to provide them with information about armed groups in the Gaza Strip.
The man told Hamas security officers that a player he met through the game’s chat box had transferred the sum of $200 to his bank account and asked him to collect the information.
According to the Palestinian, the player claimed that he was from one of the Gulf countries, and that he only wanted to help him because he lives in the Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian said that when he refused to provide the information, the anonymous player started threatening to kill him.
A security official in the Gaza Strip told the local Safa news agency that the Hamas authorities were convinced the Shin Bet was using the online game to recruit Palestinians as informants.
“They especially target the young people – men and women alike,” the official said, referring to the Shin Bet. “Israel has never hesitated to use modern technology to recruit agents to its security forces.”
According to the Hamas authorities, investigations have shown that suspected Israeli security personnel have used nicknames like “Asheq al-Shahada” (Lover of Martyrdom), “Al- Kannas” (The Sniper) and “Fursan al-Shahada” (Knights of Martyrdom) to register as players on the Ikariam website.
“First they talk with Palestinian players about the game, but after a short while they start asking questions about the resistance groups, and where they are located,” the Hamas security official said. A warning had been issued to all Internet users in the Gaza Strip against falling into the trap of Israel, he added.
Hamas recently announced that its security forces had arrested a senior member of an armed militia in the Gaza Strip on suspicion of collaboration with Israel.
The suspect, whose identity was not revealed, is said to have provided Israel with vital information about the Islamic Jihad organization and its terrorists and weapons.
Hamas claimed that the “collaborator” was one of Israel’s most important agents in the Gaza Strip.