Israel's Security Agency (ISA) recently uncovered a secret operation by Hamas to use terrorists disguised as journalists to recruit Palestinians to commit terror attacks against Jews living in Judea and Samaria.
The ISA report names four detained Hamas recruits who said they were asked to carry out terrorist attacks by people they believed to be journalists.
"This activity by Hamas's military wing is yet another one in the series of attempts by Hamas in the Gaza Strip to carry out terrorist attacks by recruiting operatives in Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. All these have been disrupted by the ISA in recent years, leading to the arrests of dozens of young operatives in Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem," a senior ISA official said.
One Palestinian man said he was contacted on Facebook by someone named Muhammad al-'Arabid, a Hamas operative in the Gaza Strip who posed as a journalist. The young recruit said he though al-'Arabid' was a media personnel because he was photographed wearing a 'Press' vest at a violent March of Return on the Gaza border.
Some Hamas operatives wear "PRESS" vests at the riots to decrease the likelihood of being shot. The IDF is extremely careful to not harm media correspondents who cover the violence.
Al-'Arabid introduced the recruit to another Hamas operative who ordered him to carry out a suicide bombing in the Israeli city of Lod. Israeli forces arrested him just days before he received the explosive belt.
According to the ISA, Hamas also uses the al-Aqsa TV channel to send hidden messages to Hamas recruits in Judea and Samaria.
Raji al-Hams, a Hamas operative and well-known al-Aqsa anchor, reportedly communicated with a terror recruit by holding his cup of coffee in a specific way.
The IDF has attacked the al-Aqsa TV building multiple times, most recently on November 13, 2018.
On December 20, 2018, Hamas announced it was closing the station because Israel's attacks on al-Aqsa TV had financially ruined it.
Hamas denies using al-Aqsa TV to communicate with terror recruits, but admits it represents the voice of the "resistance."
A report from one of Israel's leading think tanks, The Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), says the likelihood of another conflict with Hamas in 2019 is "extremely high." This is due to the deteriorating socio-economic condition in Gaza, increased pressure on Hamas from the Palestinian Authority, and Israel's decreasing deterrence since the war in 2014.
"The military wing of Hamas has not suffered a severe blow in the three rounds of conflict between the organization and Israel over the past decade, and it is important that it – and not the (Gaza) population – pay the price in the event of a confrontation," the report added.
A senior ISA official said in a statement: "This activity by Hamas's military wing is yet another one in the series of attempts by Hamas in the Gaza Strip to carry out terrorist attacks by recruiting operatives in Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. All these have been disrupted by the ISA in recent years, leading to the arrests of dozens of young operatives in Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem.