JERUSALEM, Israel – A senior Hamas official accused of spying for Israel defected to the Jewish State on Saturday, a leading Saudi Arabian media outlet reported.
The man is identified as Mohammed Omar Abu Ajwa and was reportedly in charge of an elite Hamas naval unit, Al Arabiya reported Sunday. Ajwa, who has access to sensitive documents about Hamas’ operations, escaped to Israel from Gaza on a boat with his brother.
He had allegedly been cooperating with Israel since 2009.
Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem vigorously denied the reports.
"The Al Arabiya channel is promoting rumors that serve the aims of the occupation in destabilizing the home front in Gaza," he said.
Al Arabiya also cited the Hamas Interior Ministry and Palestinian media sources who said the terror group had arrested 16 of its own members accused of spying on behalf of Israel.
This is not the first report of Hamas leaders committing espionage against the terror group and defecting to Israel.
Senior Hamas member Bassam Mahmoud Baraka in 2016 allegedly escaped to Israel and is said to have had information about the group’s terror tunnel network.
Mosab Hassan Yousef, son of Hamas co-founder Sheikh Hassan Yousef, also defected to Israel after trading Hamas' secrets. Israeli media reported last year that Mosab’s brother Suheib Yousef also left Hamas and denounced it as a “racist, terror organization.”
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