An Israeli intelligence agent successfully infiltrated the upper echelons of Hamas in Lebanon, sending shockwaves through the terror organization and causing significant embarrassment.
The agent in question, identified as Khalil Abu Ma’za, a Hamas operative from the Gaza Strip, had been operating undercover for years, working closely with Israeli intelligence.
The reports say he was arrested by Lebanese authorities towards the end of September. He apparently came to the attention of Lebanese officials working to calm an outbreak of fighting in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in August.
The successful infiltration of an Israeli operative into the upper ranks of the Hamas organization has caused significant embarrassment and concern among its leadership.
Saleh Arouri, who is believed to be a top target for Israeli assassination, is said to be particularly worried about the security breach.
According to Lebanese intelligence reports, Abu Ma’za was originally tasked with infiltrating the leadership of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, a mission he carried out with remarkable success. Under the guidance of his Israeli handlers, he climbed the ranks of Hamas, especially within its Izz a-Din al-Qassam Brigades military wing.
Four years ago, Abu Ma’za was instructed to relocate to Turkey, where he was aided by his father, who had close ties to the Hamas leadership. In Istanbul, he claimed to be working for a Turkish charity, using this cover to connect with senior Hamas officials in Gaza. His financial situation improved significantly, and when questioned, Abu Ma’za attributed it to his charitable work — an explanation that went unquestioned in the impoverished Gaza Strip.
Abu Ma’za’s rise within the terrorist organization allowed him to gain access to sensitive information, including details about weapons depots. One such depot was subsequently targeted and bombed by Israel, leaving Hamas stunned and unable to comment on the attack due to the shock it had caused.
Abu Ma’za’s proximity to the top leadership of Hamas also provided him with valuable insights into the organization’s activities in Judea and Samaria.
Lebanese reports suggest that Abu Ma’za was not limited to his activities within Gaza but also maintained contacts with the “Hegada Headquarters,” which was based in Gaza and Turkey and oversaw terror attacks in Judea and Samaria.
As part of his mission, Abu Ma’za was instructed by his Israeli handlers to request a transfer to Lebanon. However, when Hamas in Lebanon declined to accept him from Turkey, Israeli intelligence intervened. They informed Turkish authorities that Abu Ma’za was a terrorist operative, potentially jeopardizing Turkish-Israeli relations. Turkey deported Abu Ma’za to Lebanon, aligning with Israel’s original plan.
Close to the Highest Levels
Hamas contends that Abu Ma’za never underwent a security investigation during his time in Turkey and was questioned upon arrival in Lebanon. When asked to name terrorist operatives with whom he had been in contact, Abu Ma’za was unable to provide any names, suggesting he lacked such connections.
Nevertheless, Abu Ma’za resided in close proximity to senior Hamas officials, including Saleh Arouri, the overall commander of Hamas activities in Judea and Samaria, and Samir Pandi, the terror group’s top figure in Lebanon.
Abu Ma’za allegedly passed on valuable information to Israeli intelligence regarding operations being conducted from Lebanese soil and the influx of new recruits from Gaza into Lebanon. He also operated within Palestinian Authority refugee camps in Lebanon on behalf of Hamas, supplying weapons and funds. He even attempted to thwart the ceasefire agreement between Hamas and Fatah, all at the behest of Israeli intelligence, according to Lebanese sources.
Notably, Abu Ma’za had connections with Hamza Shahin, a prominent Hamas figure who died in a mysterious explosion at a weapons warehouse underneath a mosque in the Burj al-Shemali refugee camp in southern Lebanon on Dec. 10, 2021. While Hamas attributed the incident to a gas cylinder explosion, Lebanese sources suggest it was a significant weapons depot held by Hamas.
Hamas officials have downplayed Abu Ma’za’s activities, with one senior official claiming to have encountered him by chance in Turkey and noting that he had primarily worked in non-military sectors. Another Hamas member, Akram Ajouri, commented on the situation, emphasizing the importance of maintaining the reputation of Abu Ma’za’s father, a respected member of the organization.
Now, authorities in Lebanon are investigating whether Abu Ma’za managed to establish additional cells and whether he poses a threat to the top leadership of Hamas in future conflicts.