During Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip, IDF forces arrested dozens of activists, of which the majority was from Hamas and the minority from other terrorist organizations, who were transferred to the Israel Security Agency for interrogation. During their interrogations these activists revealed much information regarding the activities of the military wing of Hamas prior to and during the operation, including: the military training which activists underwent and the building of booby-trapped tunnels and tunnels for kidnapping operations. The individuals interrogated admitted that Hamas used mosques, public institutions including schools, and the houses of activists for weapon storage; as well as the fact that rocket launchings were carried out from these locations and from densely populated areas, on the assumption that Israel would avoid targeting such areas.
In addition, the individuals interrogated talked about Hamas actions against opponents of the movement, including Fatah members, who were shot in the legs or even killed; as well as against Palestinians who dared to express criticism of the movement were declared Israeli collaborators and were executed.
Regarding humanitarian assistance, the individuals interrogated revealed that Hamas elements took control of the humanitarian aid brought to the Gaza Strip, and distributed it to their members. They prevented the distribution of the aid to Fatah elements, and demanded payment in return for it from Palestinians who were not Hamas supporters. In addition, Hamas elements exploited the humanitarian aid to recruit activists, by rewarding new recruits with the right to distribute coupons for food items.
Selected Examples of Interrogations of Recent Days
Interrogation of Muhammad Imad al-Din Amasi
In his interrogation he revealed information concerning his wide military activity in Hamas, his willingness to carry out a suicide attack, his knowledge of dozens of tons of explosives and large quantities of weaponry which had been smuggled into the Gaza Strip as part of the plan to attack IDF forces. He said that he had received orders to hide in a house containing innocent civilians.
Muhammad Imad al-Din Amasi, born in 1989, resident of Jabalya and Hamas activist, was arrested by the IDF during Operation Cast Lead and was transferred for ISA interrogation on January 11, 2009. Amasi was arrested following his involvement in firing on IDF forces.
Military activity: Amasi joined Hamas in 2001, and again in 2004. He acted in "Usar": Hamas religious study groups, where he underwent indoctrination encouraging the hatred of Jews, following which he was convinced to enlist to military activity in 2005. He underwent military training, and in 2006 was a member of a cell which was primarily responsible for surveillance of IDF force movements. He left in order to finish his high school matriculation exams and returned to military activity in 2007. He underwent comprehensive military training including training in explosives, rockets and other weapons. He participated in the preparation of two explosive charges intended to be used against IDF tanks, and transferred rockets to other activists for launching. In 2008 he joined Hamas’s cadre of suicide attackers, expressed willingness to carry out a suicide attack, and was filmed in a last will and testimony.
He also revealed information regarding locations which were booby trapped with explosive charges, the locations of metal workshops, training locations,
guard positions and firing positions, including firing from trenches (alongside of which were shelters also used for weapon storage).
He also revealed his knowledge of dozens of tons of explosives and large quantities of weapons which had been smuggled into the Gaza Strip as part of a plan to attack IDF forces. In addition, he had heard of computerized anti-tank missiles in Hamas’s possession.
Hamas exploitation of the civilian population: Amasi reported in his interrogation that Hamas activists exploit innocent civilians, women and children, for the sake of their activities, to avoid being targeted by IDF forces. He related, for example, that he had hidden in a house with innocent civilians and changed his clothes so as not to be arrested. He was also witness to an incident in which Hamas activists requested a 12 year old child to wheel a cart laden with rockets while they walked at a distance, in case IDF forces noticed them. He also said that Hamas instructed its members to fire from mosques and schools, on the assumption that Israel would not respond with fire to such locations; and similarly, regarding civilian lands. He noted as well that senior members of the organization ran away and hid in bunkers while they sent junior activists to fight, and that Hamas activists shot at Fatah activists on the assumption that they were pleased with the IDF forces’ entrance of the Gaza Strip.
Interrogation of Nawaf Faysal Attar
In his interrogation he revealed information regarding a booby-trapped tunnel intended for the kidnapping of soldiers, and rocket launching from schools to take advantage of the fact that Israel doesn't attack schools He also said that Hamas elements took control of the humanitarian aid sent by Israel – distributing the aid to their members for free but charging payment for the aid to other Palestinians.
Nawaf Faysal Attar, born in 1983, resident of Atatra and Hamas activist, was arrested by the IDF during Operation Cast Lead and was transferred for ISA interrogation on January 11, 2009. During his interrogation, Attar admitted that he was aware of a booby-trapped tunnel intended for use either in the kidnapping of soldiers or to be detonated on soldiers.
Regarding the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip: Attar said that employees of the Hamas government took the humanitarian aid sent by Israel, and that civilians did not receive the aid for free but were required to pay for it. Attar recognized the humanitarian aid as originating in Israel by the Hebrew writing on, for example, sacks of flour.
Hamas exploitation of the civilian population: Attar admitted that Hamas activists frequently carried out rocket fire from schools (for example, the Sakhnin school in the area of Abu Halima, and another school in the area of the al-Amal neighborhood) due to their knowledge that Israeli jets would not fire on schools.
Attar further reported that masked Hamas activists frequently fired rockets from agricultural areas and houses, despite the protests of residents who feared the destruction of their houses and fields – which indeed happened when the IDF fired in response.
Similarly, Attar said that Palestinians who dared to object to the actions of Hamas activists were shot in the legsas occurred two years ago to Othman Abu Halima, a resident of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip. Therefore the population as a whole was afraid to resist. Hamas activists would not hesitate to declare someone a collaborator with Israel and execute him.
This interrogation provides further testimony to Hamas’s brutal policies of sowing fear in the population by means of violence against its critics. And similarly, Hamas’s cynical exploitation of public institutions, including schools, is revealed again. Such exploitation is based on taking advantage of Israeli policies which avoid striking areas of concentrated civilian population.
Interrogation of Rami Misbah Abed-Rabbo
In his interrogation he revealed information regarding rocket storage in the Salah al-Din Mosque, as well as weapon storage in the houses of Hamas activists.
Rami Misbah Abed-Rabbo, born in 1979 and Hamas activist, a resident of Jabalya, was arrested by the IDF during Operation Cast Lead and was transferred for ISA interrogation on January 12, 2009. In his interrogation, Abed Rabbo admitted that during the past year, he carried out surveillance of IDF forces from his house, and reported IDF movements to Hamas activists.
He also admitted that during the period of the “Lull,” a military Hamas activist contacted him with the request that he dig and set explosive charges in the orchard next to his house
Abed Rabbo revealed that in conversations with Hamas activists he learned that the organization had smuggled anti-tank missiles via tunnels. He also revealed his knowledge of places in which Hamas weapons had been stored, including the houses of activists, tunnels, orchards, as well as mosques such as the Salah al-Din Mosque, which served as a storage site for rockets and other weapons.
This interrogation serves as further testimony that even during the “Lull,” Hamas worked tirelessly to arm and strengthen itself, and that weapons which were smuggled into the Gaza Strip or produced there, were stored in houses and in mosques.
Interrogation of Subhi Majed Attar
In his interrogation he revealed information regarding his activity in the military wing of Hamas, including military training which took place in a mosque in Atatra, among other locations; his involvement in digging a tunnel and the placement of an explosive charge to be detonated against IDF forces should they enter. He also admitted that Hamas frequently used food coupons as an incentive for recruitment.
Subhi Majed Attar, born in 1982 and resident of Atatra, Hamas military activist and member of a family of well-known Hamas activists. He was arrested by the IDF during Operation Cast Lead and was transferred for ISA interrogation on January 11, 2009. In his interrogation, Attar admitted that he joined Hamas in 2005, and that with the Hamas rise to power in 2006, he was recruited to the military wing. Attar was incorporated in a military cell, and, armed in order to combat attempts to enter the area.
Military training: As part of his training for military activity, Attar underwent theoretical and practical drills in use and care of weapons and firing, including firing rockets and preparation of explosives. In 2008 he underwent a training which included anti-tank fire (Propellants, aiming missiles against tanks, weapon maintenance; distance calculation, etc). The theoretical training in these subjects, as well as lessons about rockets and the use of RPGs, were carried out in the Bilal Ibn Rabbah mosque in Atatra.
Involvement in digging tunnels and placing explosives: His interrogation revealed that during 2008, Attar aided in the digging of a tunnel in a building belonging to the General Intelligence/ Following the Hamas rise to power, the building served as the center of the Interior Security of the organization. Attar also revealed details regarding a tunnel dug by three other activists, in which a 70 kilogram explosive charge was placed. Attar’s role was to notify the activists to detonate the charge if IDF forces arrived in the area.
Hamas recruitment methods: Attar noted that in the Gaza Strip, each organization takes care of its own members – a fact which encourages recruitment. Thus, for example, Hamas provides its recruits with food coupons as a motivating factor for recruitment.
Interrogation of Raji Misbah Abed-Rabbo
In his interrogation he spoke about his broad military involvement in the Islamic Jihad, which included the planning of a suicide attack against IDF forces, aiding military activists in rocket launchings, and hiding weapons. He also admitted his knowledge of tunnels used to hide activists, ambush soldiers, and smuggle weapons, as well as the fact that senior Hamas members were hiding out in a bunker under Al- Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.
Raji Misbah Abed-Rabbo, born in 1987, single, a, resident of Jabalya and Islamic Jihad activist, was arrested by the IDF during Operation Cast Lead and was transferred for ISA interrogation on January 12, 2009.
Military activity: Abed-Rabbo joined the Islamic Jihad at age 17 and distributed propaganda material on behalf of the organization.
In the year 2006, he joined the PFLP, where he underwent military training. In 2007 he returned to the Islamic Jihad and was recruited to a military cell by the Islamic Jihad military commander in Jabalya, Abdullah Abed-Rabbo. In his activity for the cell, he carried out surveillance for rocket firing against IDF soldiers near his residence; agreed to the storage of explosives in his house, aided Hamas activists who were hiding from IDF forces while transferring a bag containing weapons, and planned a suicide shooting attack against IDF forces. Abed Rabbo was aware of the existence of tunnels intended for ambushing IDF soldiers, for hiding Hamas activists, and for smuggling weapons.
Information on Hamas activists: Abed-Rabbo’s interrogation revealed that Hamas military activists frequently bury explosive charges in streets, near mosques and in orchards. Thus, for example, he mentioned a booby-trapped lemon grove, which was bombed by IDF forces one day before his arrest.
He also said that senior Hamas members took over a very large bunker under Al- Shifa Hospital, where they were hiding out.
Interrogation of Imad Yusuf Hamd
In his interrogation he revealed that he served as a lookout for Hamas military activists, including during an attempt to carry out a suicide attack; and that three months earlier he had agreed that a number of barrels holding rockets and launchers be buried on land belonging to his family. Other weapons, including a gun and a Kalashnikov, were hidden behind his house.
Imad Yusuf Hamd, born in 1974, resident of Beit Hanoun, was arrested by the IDF during Operation Cast Lead and was transferred for ISA interrogation on January 5, 2009. In his interrogation, he admitted that he had begun to serve as a lookout for military Hamas activists in 2006, and reported to them the activity of IDF forces in the area. In one instance he served in this function during the attempt to carry out a suicide attack, which was foiled when the activists were identified on their way to the attack.
Recruitment to military activity: Hamd – whose two brothers were Hamas military activists killed in IDF activity in 2006 and 2007 – joined Hamas in 2008. He joined the “Executive Force", Hamas’s “police force” following their rise to power in the Gaza Strip, and later on, began to work in the interrogations department of this Force.
Knowledge of training bases, tunnels and laboratories for explosives: Hamd was aware of the Hamas training camp in Khan Younis, located in a sports complex behind the Omar Ibn Abd al-Aziz Mosque, across from the municipality; as well as rocket firing from a grove in the area of Beit Hanoun, and tunnels dug in the area of Khan Younis. He also revealed knowledge of a laboratory for manufacturing explosives and rockets, located in the civil administration complex in the Jabalya refugee camp.
His agreement to the burying of barrels of rockets and launchers in land belonging to him: Three months prior, Hamd permitted Hamas activists to bury barrels containing rockets and launchers in land belonging to his family. Three such barrels were buried, and another two were planned to be buried in the future. Hamd also said that other weapons were hidden behind his house, including a Kalachnikov rifle and ammunition.
Interrogation of Husam As'ad Attar
In his interrogation, he revealed details regarding his involvement in the placement of an explosive charge detonated against IDF forces on the fifth day of fighting. He also admitted his awareness of tunnels intended to serve for the kidnapping of soldiers, and of the foiling of the suicide attack planned against the township of Netiv ha-Asara.
Husam As'ad Attar, born in 1985, resident of Atatra and Hamas military activist, was arrested by the IDF during Operation Cast Lead and was transferred for ISA interrogation on January 11, 2009.
Military activity: Attar began his activity in Hamas in the year 2003 in al-Kutla al-Islamiyya. Later on (2005) he became part of a Hamas religious study group where he studied in a religious framework. In 2006 he enlisted in military activity, underwent training, and became part of a cell which carried out armed guard duty intended to ambush IDF soldiers and attack them. Attar underwent further training, part of it during the “Lull,” to use various types of weapons, including anti-tank weapons as well as the and detonation of explosives.
Attar also admitted his awareness of the existence of tunnels that had been dug in the direction of Israel, which were to serve in the kidnapping of soldiers; of the locations of rocket and mortar launchers; and of the locations of buried explosives. Attar also admitted his part in the placement of an explosive charge in the Salatin Square, which was activated against IDF soldiers on the fifth day of fighting.
Suicide attack against the township of Netiv ha-Asara
During his interrogation, Attar said that three days prior to the beginning of Operation Cast Lead, three suicide attackers, Hamas military activists, planned to execute a suicide attack in the Netiv ha-Asara township. The three arrived close to the security fence where they were shot and killed after being identified by IDF forces.
Interrogation of Hamed Faraj Salih
He revealed in his interrogation that he and his brother, who were suspected by Hamas of pro-Fatah activity, were interrogated and tortured, and that his brother was murdered by Hamas activists – solely due to his being a Fatah activist. He also revealed that Hamas withholds UNRWA humanitarian aid from Fatah activists.
Hamed Faraj Salih, born in 1980, resident of Jabalya, was arrested by the IDF during Operation Cast Lead and was transferred for ISA interrogation on January 12, 2009.
During his interrogation by the ISA, Salih reported that he and his brother had been interrogated and tortured by Hamas; he himself was interrogated twice in the Hamas “Tanfiziyah” in Jabalya, because to his intention of lighting a memorial candle for Yasir Arafat in 2008. Salih was tortured for hours during his interrogation, and he was beaten with whips and electric cords. His brother underwent similar torture due to his connections with Fatah activists.
In 2007, Hamas activists shot his brother to death; his brother had served as a guard at the house of the PA official in charge of internal security.
Humanitarian aid: in his interrogation, Salih spoke about the Hamas control of humanitarian aid arriving in the Gaza Strip from UNRWA – a situation existing since the Hamas rise to power in Gaza. As a result, Fatah activists do not receive any aid, and the food and equipment are transferred directly to Hamas activists and their supporters.