The gunfight after the coverage of Israeli special forces exploded "almost unleashed the new war in Gaza" – The Independent

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Israeli special forces who pretend to be employed as a medical aid have used "detailed but false" identity cards of real Gaza citizens in their intelligence incursion into the strip last month, and may have entered through an official crossing, officials said of Hamas.

The citizens of Gaza whose identities had been "stolen" presumably come from the whole small 25-mile enclave, but not from the area where the Israeli discovery operation took place. This was when local residents, according to several Hamas officials, were discovered by the militant group that runs the strip.

Hazem Qassem, a spokesman for Hamas, said his security wing was arrested and interrogated all Palestinians whose identities appeared on identity cards discovered around the wreck of a vehicle used by the special forces team Israelis who were 3 km away in the Khan Younis district in the south of Gaza when their coverage was skipped. The cards were "very accurate", Qassem added: they included the correct complete names, identification numbers and details of the residents.

Mr. Qassem said that while several people had been arrested, to his knowledge those who had used the identities had been released "because they knew nothing of genuine".

He said Israeli soldiers were pretending to be rescuers when their car was stopped.

"They had detailed but false identity cards of the Gaza residents that were found [in the wreckage]. Those that the Israelis were pretending as being held but had no idea of ​​their name had been used, "he said L & # 39; Independent from Gaza City.

"[The Israeli unit] they were posing as NGO workers, they were also women in the car. They used this to justify why they were stealing from Gaza and prepared a story in case they were interrogated, "he added.

However, the Hamas official denied the recent news in the Palestinian newspaper Walla and in the Israeli television company that the Israeli team had successfully established and ran a non-governmental organization in Gaza.

It would not go into details about what was believed to be the purpose of the Israeli raid on Gaza. The Israeli army refused to comment on any accusations.

However, another Hamas official, who asked to remain anonymous because he was not allowed to speak with the media, said that the Israeli forces were in Gaza to replace the listening and surveillance devices that had been placed before.

At least eight people, including an Israeli lieutenant colonel and a commander of the local Hamas brigade, were killed on 11 November when Hamas agents confronted a team of undercover Israeli and female agents in Gaza's southern district of Khan Younis.

A gun battle followed, and Israeli warplanes and helicopters launched a wave of air strikes in the area, apparently to cover their soldiers as they fled to Israel. The Gaza fighters counterattacked with the heaviest rocket bombing after the last conflict of 2014, causing new air strikes. Both sides were on the verge of another war, and another eight people were killed until Egypt began negotiating a new ceasefire that remains in place.

The Israeli army declined to comment on any of the latest allegations when contacted by L & # 39; Independent. At the beginning of the week, the army announced that it was opening two separate investigations in the failed raid. A military gag on the details of the probe is fine.

At the time of the raid, the army said that a special force was conducting "a long operation and encountered a very complex reality" without providing details. The military added that these types of operations were carried out "on a regular basis" and were essential for the security of the country.

But many now fear that foreign aid workers will be at risk, and their work in Gaza will be reduced if it is shown that the Israeli special forces, in fact, have impersonated NGO workers.

Safety has certainly been strengthened by the coastal enclave.

L & # 39; Independent noticed further checkpoints throughout the territory, as well as more stringent questions at the border upon entry.

Local officials have not granted L & # 39; Independent allowed to visit the site of the failed raid and warned the outlet against doing so without permits, saying that the area was under investigation.

Qassem said, however, that the Gaza authorities have "dedicated" to ensuring the entry and freedom of movement of humanitarian workers and foreign journalists in the enclave as they were needed in a worsening of the humanitarian crisis, exacerbated by an 11-year-old Israeli-siege besieged on the strip.

"We are worried that foreigners will continue to come in. They are helping with the humanitarian situation, we are dedicated to facilitating people entering and leaving Gaza, and any reinforced security measures – which are applied to everyone – will be temporary," he added. .

A Hamas official, who asked to speak anonymously, offered further details on the ongoing Palestinian investigation into the incident. He claimed that initially the Israeli team had told fighters at the checkpoint that they were health workers who were working to deliver patients to their homes after treatment.

He added that there was "a high possibility" that the team would legally enter Gaza through an official crossing like Erez.

The official said, "They told fighters at the checkpoint that they were bringing patients from the clinics back to their homes and they had a wheelchair in the back of the van. [fighters] presiding over the checkpoint was suspicious because their accents and voices did not match the areas they claimed to be. "

They told fighters at the checkpoint that they are delivering patients from clinics to their homes and have a wheelchair in the back of the van

Hamas official

The official said that several senior officers were summoned until Noureddin Barakat, a local Hamas commander, was called. He decided to take the undercover Israeli squad to further interrogation at a nearby military camp that brought Israeli soldiers to shoot, killing Barakat and his deputy.

"There is a high possibility that the Israeli team is initially entered through an official entry point [with Israel] like Erez, but this is not confirmed ", added the source of Hamas.

He echoed the spokesman for the Hamas spokesman that the team was running a functioning NGO within the strip.

Local residents and prominent figures from the area, located on the main road between the Khan Younis cities of Abasan Kabira and Khuza & a., Tell L & # 39; Independent Israeli soldiers were traveling on a Volkswagen minibus and had a wheelchair in the back of the van that they said they were using to deliver patients.

They claimed that Barakat knew one of the specific cases mentioned and that he was able to call the family who confirmed that the disabled woman in question had effectively disappeared recently.

A grocery store owner in the area, who asked to be identified as Abu Ahmed only for fear of reprisals, said he was warned for the first time of the incident when the gun battle broke out, though at the beginning he believed it was a celebratory firearm shot for a wedding.

He said the Israeli army fled through farmland owned by a local Gaza man who is reportedly lacking.

None of the statements could be verified independently.

For the time being, in Gaza there is still a tense ceasefire. Officials of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which is listed as a terrorist group in the United Kingdom and has a powerful armed wing inside the enclave, said they were "engaged" in the truce if the Israelis respected it.

However privately both Hamas and Islamic Jihad have admitted that they "did not lower their guard" because they believed that further air strikes in Gaza "could be on paper".

Many in Israel, including residents under rocket fire near the Gaza border, have urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to continue hammering Hamas's goals to reduce its capabilities, fearing a ceasefire at this point would be a loss for Israel and only see more line fights.

Residents of southern Israel protest in Tel Aviv against ceasefire with Gaza (Reuters)

Netanyahu, who abstained from ordering further strikes, has just saved his collapsing power coalition last week when he managed to convince the powerful Israeli education minister Naftali Bennett to remain loyal to the alliance after being fallen in the ceasefire.

The crisis broke out two weeks ago, when Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman resigned and left the coalition for a truce with Hamas, leaving Netanyahu with a monopolistic majority in parliament.

Mr. Bennett should have followed the example, but in a surprise statement he stated that he would stick to the government and the coalition if Netanyahu were serious about his intention to "win Israel" and continue to take action against Hamas in Gaza.

Dozens of rockets launched from Gaza against Israeli civilians

Back in Gaza, officials said they believed there was a "cautious calm" and therefore the fighters remained "on guard".

"If the Israelis launch a new attack, the Palestinian [fighters] they are ready to face this attack, "said Walid al-Qottati, a member of the political wing of Islamic Jihad L & # 39; Independent.

"But we do not want a war, because it will only bring suffering to people," he added.

A Hamas official accepted.

"We do not let our guard down yet … We think the Israelis could go on a sudden strike, but for now, for now, at least things are moving in the right direction," he added.

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