Israel says it arrested brother of 'Hamas security chief'

Israel says it arrested brother of 'Hamas security chief'
Israel's army said Wednesday they have arrested a man whose brother is the Hamas security chief for northern Gaza, while Gazan authorities said the arrested man is mentally unstable.
2 min read
29 December, 2016
The Israeli military says the man was arrested after crossing the Gaza border [Getty]

The Israeli army said Wednesday it had arrested the brother of a Hamas security chief accused of involvement in tunnel building in the besieged Gaza Strip.

The military said in a statement that Bilaal Razayna, 24, was arrested after crossing from Gaza into Israel, while the country’s domestic security agency, the Shin Bet, said he had crossed the security fence.

The Shin Bet claims the man’s brother, Mustafa Razayna, heads internal security in the northern Gaza Strip for Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Palestinian enclave.

Gaza interior ministry spokesman Iyad al-Bozum said the man arrested had been detained when approaching the border on the Gazan side of the fence.

Bozum said the man’s brother worked in the interior ministry, without providing further details, but added that the man had mental health problems and was not in contact with the Gaza security services.

The military said Razayna was arrested on November 27, but the information was cleared for release only on Wednesday.

It alleged he was part of Hamas's armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, for the past 10 years and "was closely associated with the tunnel network in the Gaza Strip".

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"Razayna revealed sensitive information regarding Hamas activity, including that part of the tunnel system within the Gaza Strip was constructed under his home, which was also used as a weapon storage facility," the military statement said.

The Shin Bet said he had been charged with membership and activity in a banned organisation and weapons offences.

Over the years, Hamas has built a labyrinth of tunnels, including those crossing under the border with Israel, for use in any renewed conflict.

Israel has launched three wars against Gaza since 2008, and the territory has been under an Israeli blockade for a decade. Gaza's border with Egypt has also remained largely closed.

Tunnels have long been used to smuggle people and much-needed goods in and out of the enclave of some two million inhabitants.

Agencies contributed to this report.