PA official: IDF has infiltrated Izzadin Kassam

PA security officials say members of Hamas's armed wing have been recruited by Israel as "collaborators."

Hamas heads 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Hamas heads 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Israel has managed to infiltrate Hamas's armed wing, Izzadin Kassam, by recruiting some of its members as "collaborators," Palestinian Authority security officials revealed Sunday. Hamas officials confirmed that their security forces had arrested several "collaborators," but denied that they belonged to the Islamist movement. This is the first time Hamas has openly admitted that Israel's security forces have succeeded in planting agents in its secretive armed wing. If true, it would be the largest network of "collaborators" that has ever been busted by Hamas. The case has seriously embarrassed Hamas, whose spokesmen have tried to distance themselves from the suspects by claiming that they are former Fatah policemen. Ironically, Hamas's admission came less than 24 hours after Minister-without-Portfolio Ami Ayalon, a former head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), said that "intelligence failure" was preventing the IDF from rescuing kidnapped IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Schalit. "We simply do not have the sufficient intelligence at this time," he said. "That is the only thing preventing us from going ahead with a rescue right now." The main suspects are brothers Ahmed and Yakoub Nassar, who live in Gaza City and are known as senior members of Izzadin Kassam. Until his arrest, Yakoub Nassar served as an aide and bodyguard to Yusef Zahar, a prominent Hamas figure and head of the movement's paramilitary Executive Force. A third brother, Ishak Nassar, also a senior member of Izzadin Kassam, was killed by the IDF three years ago when he tried to infiltrate into Israel. Ahmed and Yakoub Nassar reportedly confessed to helping Israel, together with other Hamas members, in the assassination of at least six top Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives in the Gaza Strip over the past two years. Ten men have been arrested on suspicion of spying for Israel. Ahmed Nassar reportedly told interrogators that he had been recruited by Israel's security forces more than three years ago and that he was the one who convinced his brother to work with him earlier this year. Yakoub Nassar is said to have confessed to tipping off Israel about the movements of Majed al-Harazeen, the commander of Islamic Jihad's armed wing, who was killed in an IAF air strike last week. The confession came after a picture of Harazeen was found in Yakoub Nassar's possession. Another member of the Nassar family, Akram, served as a personal bodyguard to slain Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi. Palestinian security sources said they did not rule out the possibility that the bodyguard, who has also been killed since then, was also working for Israel at the time. Some of the "collaborators" are reported to be members of the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), an alliance of several radical armed groups that was founded in the Gaza Strip about seven years ago. The PRC is one of the groups that claimed responsibility for the abduction of Schalit. Abu Obaidah, spokesman for Izzadin Kassam, confirmed the arrests. He said the suspects had been involved in the assassination of many Hamas and Islamic Jihad members. Most of the suspects had served in the Fatah-controlled security forces, he added. Zahar, who is the brother of Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar, confirmed that his bodyguard was among those arrested as "collaborators." But he denied that the suspect belonged to Hamas.