Israel charges teen Hamas tunneler

2016-05-11 05:17
Shin Bet

Shin Bet

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Jerusalem - Israel on Tuesday charged a Gaza teenager who crossed into the Jewish state with attempted murder and membership of the military wing of Hamas, the Shin Bet security service said.

In a statement released days after a spike in cross-border violence centred around Israeli operations against Hamas attack tunnels, Shin Bet said that since his arrest last month, the suspect had given interrogators valuable intelligence on Hamas operations.

The 17-year-old suspect, from Jabalia in northern Gaza, had provided "extensive information" on "Hamas activity in digging tunnels for the infiltration of Hamas fighters into Israel," said Shin Bet.

The suspect was indicted at a court in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba with attempted murder, being a Hamas member and harming Israel's security, the justice ministry said.

Shin Bet said that after receiving Hamas training he took part in "extensive military activity including ambushes and surveillance against Israeli army forces, patrols and excavation of tunnels toward Israel."

Interrogators had also learned details about ways tunnel diggers "disguise their activity, such as a prohibition on exiting tunnels in work clothes," it said.

"Excavators are required to shower and change clothes inside the tunnels."

Clashes broke out on the Gaza border last week as Israel revealed a new tunnel reaching into its territory from the Palestinian enclave, after a first one was discovered mid-April.

The violence was the worst flare-up between the army and Hamas since the devastating 2014 war, with Hamas attacking forces operating nearby with mortar rounds and Israel responding with air raids and tank fire, which resulted in the death of a Gaza woman.

Flare up

Hamas's Gaza leader, Ismail Haniya, said on Friday that the group was "not calling for a new war", but would not accept Israeli incursions into Palestinian territory.

Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said on Tuesday the flare-up was over Israel's hunt for tunnels inside Gaza.

"When Hamas realised we were systematically beginning to discover tunnels, they tried to deter us from finding more on their side of the fence," he said of the 100m "buffer zone" on Gaza's side of the border where Israel claims the right to operate.

Shin Bet said the arrested teen was one of "several militants" currently in custody "revealing updated internal information about Hamas's intensive tunnel digging activity."

On Thursday, the agency said it had detained and interrogated another Hamas operative who was active in the tunnel network, also from Jabalia.

Hamas has an extensive network of tunnels inside the Gaza Strip, including those reaching into Israel and Egypt.

Israel sees them as a strategic threat and authorities have announced technological breakthroughs in finding them.

Read more on:    shin bet  |  israel

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