Hamas Palestinian resistance group in the Gaza Strip said on Sunday that its security forces arrested a cell of Palestinian Authority intelligence officials, who collected information on Islamic Jihad leader Baha Abu al-Ata before he was assassinated by the Zionist entity in a targeted killing earlier last month.
Fatah, the party that dominates the PA, quickly pushed back on the accusation, claiming it was false.
Abu al-Ata and his wife were martyred on November 12, in an Israeli strike on his home in northern Gaza. Palestinian resistance groups in Gaza subsequently fired hundreds of rockets at Israel, which responded with retaliatory strikes.
After Abu al-Ata’s martyrdom, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described him as a “ticking time bomb” and “the main instigator of terrorism” from the coastal enclave, responsible for many rocket attacks on the occupied territories and planning more.
The Hamas Interior Ministry said in a statement Sunday that the cell of PA intelligence officers monitored the movements of Abu al-Ata for several months before he was killed.
It specifically said that the cell was ordered to follow the Islamic Jihad commander by Shaaban Abdullah al-Gharbawi, who it said is a PA General Intelligence Services officer responsible for Gaza.
A video released by the ministry said that there were six PA intelligence officers under Gharbawi’s command. It also stated that Gharbawi resides in Ramallah, suggesting that he was not in its custody.
The footage included a recording of what the ministry said was a phone call about Abu al-Ata between Gharbawi and a Shin Bet security service agent named “Berri.”
The video also purported to show footage of the airstrike that killed Abu al-Ata.
In its statement, the ministry announced that the security forces confiscated “technical materials” that confirm Gharbawi gave Shin Bet officers information about “the resistance’s abilities, plans and the movements of its members and leaders.”
Fatah rejected ministry’s allegations as “baseless lies aimed at covering up the secret understandings between Hamas and Israel.”
“This is a theater performance that has been woven together by Hamas’s delusions,” Fatah said in a statement.