JERUSALEM (AFP) — Israeli security forces have apprehended a Hamas operative who planned to capture Israeli soldiers and smuggle them into the Gaza Strip to be used in future prisoner swaps, the army said on Sunday.
An army spokesman said Israeli troops and intelligence agents arrested Gamal Abu Duabah, a 21-year-old Gaza resident, on September 21 after he attempted to infiltrate Israel from Egypt.
"Under questioning he admitted to being part of a Hamas plot to kidnap Israeli soldiers," the spokesman said.
"He also mentioned that he was sent by seniors in the Hamas organisation who trained his squad and funded its operations, seniors with whom he kept in direct and continuous contact."
The Islamist Hamas movement -- which seized power in the Gaza Strip in June 2007 after routing forces loyal to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas -- is sworn to Israel's destruction and blacklisted as a terror group in the West.
In June 2006 militants from Hamas and two smaller Palestinian groups seized the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in a deadly cross-border raid.
Hamas has since demanded the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners jailed in Israel in exchange for the captured soldier.
The army said Abu Duabah sneaked into Egypt from Gaza through a smuggling tunnel and spent several weeks in the Sinai planning the operation.
During his interrogation he said he planned to lure Israeli soldiers to the border with an apparent drug smuggling operation, then seize them, put them under with sleeping pills, and smuggle them back into the Gaza Strip.
Israel and Hamas agreed to an Egypt-brokered truce in June which has brought a virtual halt to the near-daily rocket attacks Palestinians used to launch at communities near the Gaza border.
Hamas has accused Israel of violating the truce by not lifting its crippling sanctions on the territory and Israel has charged Hamas with using the calm to re-arm and plan future attacks.
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