Revealed: How a Shin Bet Mole Penetrated Top Hamas Ranks

This untold story is an object lesson on how the clandestine roles played by double or triple spies, moles and informers, affect major conflicts. It also shows how much family attachments mean to a functioning terrorist.
On Aug. 25, 2003, three missiles fired from an Israeli helicopter gunship killed four members of the armed wing of the Palestinian extremist Hamas organization in Gaza City. Witnesses, hearing deafening explosions, saw the missiles strike a group of men sitting near the beach.
The attack followed the Israeli chief of staff’s vow to hunt down the Palestinian terrorists and cut their leaders down.
One of the victims was Ahmad Shteiwi, 24, a senior officer in Hamas’ Ezz a-din al-Qassam armed wing. He was listed by Israeli security officials as the group’s operations chief and mastermind of terrorist attacks.
His brother Muhammad Shteiwi stepped into his shoes then and there.
Exactly eleven years later, on Aug. 19, 2014 – Day 44 of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge against Hamas in the Gaza Strip – the Israeli Air Force dropped six one-ton bombs on a multi-storied apartment building in the Sheikh Radwan district of Gaza City.
After the smoke cleared, the bombardment was found to have killed two relatives of Muhammed Deif, Hamas’ iconic military chief: Wadad Mustafa Harb Deif, aged 28, his wife and his 8-month old son Muhammad Diyab Deif, as well a rocket-man, Ahmad Ravah Dilo, aged 18 – who was no relation.

Deif survives seventh targeted assassination – barely

Muhammed Deif’s body was not found in the rubble of the building. He was presumed to have fled to safety in time to escape the Israeli bombardment. He has not been seen or heard of since. When asked what happened to him, Israeli security officials fall silent.
Shortly after the Israeli air raid, DEBKA Weekly of Aug. 20 quoted Israeli intelligence sources as concluding that their most wanted Palestinian terrorist target, Muhammad Deif, had got away. Like a cat, he had survived six former Israeli attempts on his life in the past 17 years and had managed to do so again.
But they wondered how he had managed it when his closest family was left to die.
The answer is simple. The first two Israeli bombs were duds. They did not explode, but they gave the master terrorist the tipoff to an ongoing air strike on his home. Confronted with the agonizing choice between saving himself or a hopeless attempt to save his family, he opted for the first.
By the time the rest of the bombs were dropped, Deif had reached safety. And so Israel’s military operation in the Gaza Strip last summer missed one of its primary objectives.

The iconic Hamas chief was sold out by an insider

Deif and Hamas commanders, assisted by Iranian and Hizballah intelligence officers, probed tirelessly to locate the informer who gave the Israeli Shin Bet’s the exact address of the building and apartment occupied by the Deif family and told the Israeli spy agency that Deif would be there on the night of Aug. 18.
The investigation led them to Deif’s most loyal minion, Muhammad Shteiwi, who took over from his older brother Ahmad when he was killed in a previous Israeli targeted assassination eleven years earlier.
The younger Shteiwi had in the intervening years climbed up the terrorist organization’s military ladder. By the time the Israeli operation began in 2014, he was commander of the important Zeitoun Battalion with responsibility for defending the southern sectors of Gaza City.
What his Hamas bosses did not know was that Shteiwi also acted under cover as Muhammad Deif’s trusted henchman and performer of a variety of clandestine tasks and missions.
Deif trusted Shteiwi so implicitly that he asked him to arrange a hideout for him to get together with his family whom he had not seen since the onset of the Gaza war more than a month earlier.
Shteiwi accordingly ensconced Deif and his family in the Sheikh Radwan apartment.
No sooner had he settled them in their hideout, when Shteiwi donned his third hat. He sent a message to his Israeli Shin Bet handlers with an offer of their biggest intelligence scoop – Muhammed Deif.

The mole with three hats awaits Hamas execution

At first, Israeli intelligence officials were skeptical about their agent’s scoop. They had previous experience of his capricious, fickle nature which was combined with boundless avarice.
In once instance, they discovered in the middle of a long rocket blitz from the Gaza Strip that Shteiwi had sold rockets sent him for the attacks on Israel to Jihad Islami rocket teams. From this transaction, he benefited twice, earning a substantial sum in cash while at the same time disavowing responsibility for sending rockets against Israel.
The Shin Bet therefore suspected that either Shteiwi was up to one of his tricks or that Hamas was using him to set a trap.
Nonetheless, they passed the information to the highest officials in command of the war operation – Prime Minster Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.
They decided to take it on faith and approved an air bombardment of the apartment building which the Hamas informant had identified as the Deif family hideout.
At the end of this murky episode, both the wanted master terrorist and his betrayer were still alive.
Shteiwi is languishing in a Hamas prison waiting for execution. Gaza’s rulers hesitate to carry out the death sentence, because it would be an admission that the highest-ranking officer of Hamas’ armed wing was a traitor and Zionist mole.
Deif has gone back to the shadows. He lives in hiding and on the run, fearing that Israel’s next attempt on his life would bring to an end his run of luck.

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