Israeli special ops force was in Gaza for two months before its firefight with Hamas, report says


(JTA) — An Israeli special operations force caught last month in a firefight with Hamas had been in  Gaza for about two months before their cover was blown.

The team, which entered both through the Erez border crossing and through a breach in the security fence, had rented an apartment and were posing as medical aid workers, Hadashot TV news reported Thursday, citing Palestinian media reports.

They were discovered at a Hamas checkpoint in Khan Younis, and their stories were not consistent during interrogation, according to the report. Their discovery led to a firefight in which one Israeli soldier was killed and a second injured.

In the wake of the incident, terror groups in Gaza fired hundreds of rockets on southern Israel over two days, killing one person and damaging buildings.

The dead soldier was not publicly identified, except by his first initial, due to the sensitivity of the operation. The soldiers from the special forces unit were in Gaza to gather intelligence, according to reports, though details of the mission have been blocked by the military censor.

Earlier this week the British newspaper The Independent reported, citing an unnamed Hamas official, that the Israeli forces were in Gaza to replace listening and surveillance devices that had been there for some time.