Al Jazeera television has released several new details on the botched operation, by Israeli Special Operations troops, that took place in Gaza in November 2018. When the dust from the blown operation had settled, one Israeli operative and seven Hamas soldiers lay dead and the Israelis were peppering the area with airstrikes to cover their withdrawal. Hamas responded with firing hundreds of rockets at Israel. 

The operation began on November 11 as 17 Israelis, including two women, riding on a van and holding fake IDs and Palestinian passports, passed into Gaza posing as an extended family from the West Bank. The Israelis were members of the secret intelligence unit Sayeret Matkal. Their mission was to plant listening devices in different areas to eavesdrop on Hamas communications. Another Israeli operative entered Gaza through the Erez crossing using the cover of humanitarian aid. He posed as a member of a Portugese-based organization, called Humedic, and used the name of Joao Santos. He brought in specialized drilling and spyware equipment.

However, the Israelis’ van was pulled over by a Hamas patrol unit in Khan Younis. There the operatives’ elaborate cover story began to fall apart. The Hamas men began to get suspicious since the Israelis looked so different from one another. Then when questioned for more than 40 minutes, they claimed to be visiting a sick relative in the European hospital. 

Initially, the Palestinians didn’t suspect the members of the van to be Israelis. They thought the operatives were a criminal gang of smugglers from the West Bank.