Israeli intelligence officers doubt Hamas involvement in incident that sparked Gaza war

Sheera Frenkel reports: Three weeks into Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip, Israeli security officials are no closer to finding the men held responsible for the killings that sparked the assault, and some of those working on the case are strongly rejecting the Israeli government’s assertion that the alleged killers were linked to the militant group Hamas.

Israel has failed to capture Marwan Qawasmeh, 29, and Amar Abu Aisha, 32, the two men it says were behind the murder of three Israeli teens on June 12. At least four of the men’s relatives have been detained over the last month in connection to the kidnapping and killing. They remain under gag order, meaning they cannot be made public or reported on inside Israel.

In the weeks following the kidnapping, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel knew “for a fact” that Hamas was behind the kidnapping, adding, “Hamas is responsible, and Hamas will pay.”

But one Israeli intelligence officer who works in the West Bank and is intimately involved in investigating the case spoke to BuzzFeed on condition of anonymity and said he felt the kidnapping had been used by politicians trying to promote their own agenda.

“That announcement was premature,” the intelligence officer said. “If there was an order, from any of the senior Hamas leadership in Gaza or abroad, this would be an easier case to investigate. We would have that intelligence data. But there is no data, so we have come to conclude that these men were acting on their own.” [Continue reading…]

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