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Israel reveals new details about thwarted undercover op in Gaza

A Palestinian boy walks among the rubble of his home after it was destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza on 14 November 2018 [Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency]
A Palestinian boy walks among the rubble of his home after it was destroyed by Israeli air strikes in Gaza on 14 November 2018 [Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency]

The Israeli military has released some of the results of an investigation conducted into the undercover raid inside the occupied Gaza Strip thwarted by Hamas forces in November 2018.

According to Haaretz, the incident is considered “an unprecedented failure that will bring about changes both structural and conceptual in the way Military Intelligence and its units operate.”

The fallout has already included “a reshuffle in senior positions in special operations”, with the commander at the time “recently asked to be relieved of his duties before completing his term”.

Israeli media reports on the army’s investigation, like all such reports, were subject to military censorship – and the published findings are themselves only partial.

According to Haaretz, the undercover raid was based on “months of detailed planning involving the classified unit that carried it out and the entire intelligence community”.

READ: Israeli ‘solution’ for Gaza includes massive military offensive and move to Sinai

The “forward command” consisted of the then-head of the Israeli military, Gadi Eisenkot, Military Intelligence chief Tamir Hayman and Shin Bet head Nadav Argaman.

Most of the reported conclusion of the army’s investigation confirms what is already known about the incident; namely, that two vehicles of occupation forces pretending to be Palestinian civilians were stopped in Khan Younis, and aroused suspicion.

The army, however, now claims that it was the Israeli commander at the scene who, during questioning by Al-Qassam Brigades members, decided to open fire first – and in doing so, killed his colleague, known as “Lt. Col. M”.

READ: Netanyahu threatens Gaza with new military aggression 

The report also confirms that the forces were only extracted thanks to air support, including a helicopter and a bombardment of “the surrounding neighbourhood” by the air force.

The report suggests that the operation was undermined by overconfidence, or an underestimation of Al-Qassam Brigades.

“The force was considered so experienced and well-trained that it was apparently saddled with too great a burden without putting enough thought into the details of what could go wrong,” stated Haaretz.

The military also stated that “special operations brigade forces have returned to action and a number of special intelligence operations have been carried out…including inside Gaza.”

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