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Hamas senior official reportedly defects to Israel

A Haaretz report suggests that the official, Bassam Mahmoud Baraka, has extensive knowledge of Gaza’s tunnels
Tunnels were among the most feared weapons of Hamas fighters during the 2014 conflict (AFP)

A senior member of Hamas’ armed wing, Bassam Mahmoud Baraka, defected to Israel, according to a Haaretz report on Tuesday.

The report sources a number of different Fatah-affiliated news outlets claiming that Barak fled to Israel and that he has extensive knowledge of Gaza’s tunnels.

Baraka, the son of a Hamas judge, allegedly left home to conduct errands, but has not returned since.

The Haaretz article said that he travelled to the border and turned himself in. He reportedly carried a laptop.

The Red Cross told Baraka's family in Gaza that he is in Israeli custody, according to the report.

The Fatah websites sourced in the Haaretz story claim that this does not mark the first time that Hamas members entered Israeli custody.

In May, a 17-year-old Hamas member captured by Israel allegedly divulged Gaza tunnel activities. He reportedly told Israel that Hamas has been digging tunnels for a planned attack as well as the location for emergency escape tunnels.

Israel’s internal security apparatus, Shin Bet, announced last week that a Hamas official arrested back in April provided information regarding how tunnels are dug. That person was arrested for crossing the Gaza fence and possessing two knives.

Tunnels were among the most feared weapons of Hamas fighters during the 2014 conflict.

Hamas's Gaza leader, Ismail Haniyah, said in May that the group was "not calling for a new war," but would not accept Israeli incursions into Palestinian territory.