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‘Hamas military chief survived assassination attempt’

Mohammed Deif is alive and has resumed his command, officials confirm • Hamas reportedly planned to storm Kibbutz Kerem Shalom during Operation Protective Edge, but the attack was nixed over internal discord between Deif and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal.
Lilach Shoval, News Agencies, and Israel Hayom Staff
143029766959792785a_bIzzedine al-Qassam Brigades operatives inside a Hamas tunnel [Archive] Photo credit: Reuters

Hamas’ military wing, the Izzedine al-Qassam‎ Brigades, planned a massive raid on Kibbutz Kerem Shalom, near the Israel-Gaza Strip border, during the first week of last summer’s Operation Protective Edge, the Israeli defense establishment revealed Wednesday.

According to an Army Radio report, dozens of heavily armed Hamas terrorists intended to use a tunnel dug under the border and leading to the outskirts of the border-adjacent kibbutz to storm in and kill or abduct as many of its residents as possible, with the goal of using hostages as bargaining chips in future prisoner exchange negotiations with Israel.

The raid, planned by Hamas military wing head Mohammed Deif, was meant to serve as a strategic blow to Israel, but was canceled at the last minute over disagreements within Hamas, the report said.

The Israeli defense establishment recently confirmed that Deif survived the Israeli assassination attempt against him during Operation Protective Edge and has resumed his command the Izzedine al-Qassam‎ Brigades. Deif had previously survived four Israeli attempts on his life.

The Israel Defense Forces destroyed 32 terror tunnels during Operation Protective Edge, but it is believed that since the Gaza campaign ended, Hamas has been sparing no effort to rebuild and expand its underground grid of tunnels, as well as to replenish its weapons arsenals, and improve its independent rocket production capabilities.

According to several media reports, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal vetoed Deif’s plan to storm border-adjacent communities during the fighting last summer, over concerns that Hamas would be unable to contain or withstand the Israeli response to attacks of that nature.

According to the Walla news site, since the conclusion of Operation Protective Edge, Hamas’ political and military wings have been at loggerheads over policies toward Israel, as well as Hamas’ relationships with Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Deif believes Hamas should bolster its ties with Iran, to gain access to better funding and more advanced weapons, while Mashaal seeks to bolster relations with Saudi Arabia, as its international standing can better promote Hamas’ political interest in the regional and global theaters.

According to the report, one of the concerns raised by the Israeli defense establishment is that the tensions between Hamas’ political and military wings, compounded by the growing disregard the more radical elements within Hamas have been showing for the group’s political leaders, may prompt the military wing to carry out independent attacks against Israel.

Commenting on the revelation that Kerem Shalom had narrowly escaped a massive terrorist attack, kibbutz secretary Roni Kissin said, “It’s a scary reality, but life has to go on. At the end of the day, this [raid] didn’t happen, so obviously, someone is doing their job properly.”

Meanwhile, the IDF, Shin Bet security agency, and Israel Police have uncovered a scheme to transfer Hamas funds from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank through Jordan.

It is believed the funds were meant to promote the establishment of Hamas infrastructure across Judea and Samaria.

The Shin Bet has arrested three suspects in the case, identified as Jordanian national Yakub Alguwad, and Palestinian attorneys Yazan Shaur and Yasser Mohammed Kukas.

The three were indicted Tuesday before the Judea Military Court on charges of providing services to an illegal organization, possession of an illegal organization’s funds and assets, and contact with an enemy agent.


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