TEL AVIV – A senior member of Hamas’ armed wing who is reportedly an expert on the terror group’s tunnels has defected to Israel, rival group Fatah reported.
Bassam Mahmoud Baraka, the son of a Muslim religious judge from Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip, did not return home after leaving with a laptop to conduct “errands.”
Haaretz reported on a number of Fatah-affiliated websites that alleged the Red Cross had told his family in Gaza that he was in Israeli custody.
The West Bank-based Fatah faction slammed Hamas for allowing its militants to surrender to Israel, and noted that this was not the first time senior members of the organization ended up in Israeli custody.
In May, a 17-year-old Hamas member was captured by Israel after infiltrating the country, and divulged information about Gaza tunnel activities. Included in his tell-all was information on Hamas’ digging methodology, including anecdotal testimony, such as the fact that diggers are required to shower and change clothes before leaving the tunnels in the interests of preserving secrecy.
He also revealed the locations of tunnel shafts and supplied information on tunnel routes to used in case of emergency by members of Hamas’ elite Nachba unit.
According to the report, the youth also told Israel about planned attacks by Hamas.
Israel’s internal security agency the Shin Bet announced the week before that another Hamas member arrested in April also provided information on how tunnels are dug. The informant, who was charged with tunnel digging and laying explosives across the fence, was arrested after crossing into Israel from Gaza in possession of knives.
Hamas’ deputy chief, Ismail Haniyeh, said in May that the Islamist group was “not calling for war” with Israel.