HAMAS FOILS ISRAELI ATTEMPT TO POISON GAZA OFFICIAL - REPORT


Israel tried to assassinate a senior official in the Gaza Strip by poison, a Hezbollah-affiliated newspaper claimed on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, an Egyptian security delegation is scheduled to visit Ramallah on Thursday for talks with Palestinian Authority officials on ways of achieving “reconciliation” between the PA and Hamas, Palestinian sources said. The delegation is carrying “new ideas” to solve the dispute between the rival Palestinian parties in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the sources said without elaborating.
Citing “security sources,” the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar said that the alleged assassination attempt took place last month. The sources said that a “collaborator” involved in the alleged attempt to poison the senior “resistance” official has been apprehended by Hamas.

Al-Akhbar did not name the official or the group he belongs to.

The sources said that had the assassination attempt succeeded, “it would have been a major blow to the Palestinian resistance.”

According to the report, strict measures taken by Hamas after the botched November 2018 IDF commando operation in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip contributed to the uncovering of the alleged attempt to kill the top official by poisoning.

The November operation in Khan Yunis left a lieutenant-colonel dead and another officer moderately injured. Six members of Izzadin al-Qassam,were also killed in the firefight.

The Lebanese newspaper claimed that another senior military commander was also targeted by Israel. It said the commander, whose identity was not revealed, received a booby-trapped package as a “gift” from a “collaborator.” Hamas discovered and safely dismantled the explosive device, the report added. Following the incident, Hamas arrested a number of Palestinians connected to the case, it said.

The report also claimed that Hamas and other Gaza-based groups have lately detected an increase in Israeli efforts to recruit Palestinians as informants through “financial temptations and blackmail.”

Hamas did not comment on the report.

On Tuesday, Hamas launched a massive surprise drill in the Gaza Strip simulating an Israeli ground incursion into the coastal enclave. During the drill, Hamas and other Palestinian groups deployed militiamen in various parts of the Gaza Strip and closed all border crossings.

A Hamas spokesman said that the drill’s aim was to evaluate the “readiness of resistance groups for a scenario of an extensive attempt to harm public order and stability.”

In an unrelated development, senior Hamas official Musa Abu Marzook claimed on Wednesday that his movement received “more than one message to conduct dialogue with the Americans.” Hamas, he said on Twitter, “turned down all the message for two reasons: first, their plan to liquidate the Palestinian cause through various projects (Deal of the Century); and, second, the PAboycott of any dialogue with the Americans, in order to preserve the unity of the Palestinian position.”

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