Earlier this week, an Israeli newspaper cited allegations by the country’s internal security service that the Palestinian militant group Hamas was training undercover operatives in Malaysia for attacks.
According to the report by Haaretz, Shin Bet had produced detailed evidence about how Hamas men in Malaysia actively recruited Palestinians students studying there for military training in an indictment filed last month. Recruiters allegedly put students through initial ideological preparation that includes joining the Muslim Brotherhood and local Palestinian charities before they undergo military training. These operatives are then deployed in various roles, including setting up military networks in the West Bank, acting as messengers and carrying out secret fund transfers for Hamas.
The allegation itself is not new. Last year, Israel claimed that a member of Hamas had trained in Malaysia to paraglide into Israeli territory to carry out murders and kidnapping. Malaysia, a Muslim-majority nation which does not have diplomatic relations with Israel and has often expressed support for the Palestinian cause, denied this allegation at the time. However, this is the first time that Shin Bet has offered more details in court papers to back up that earlier assertion.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
Hamas has reportedly dismissed the recent accusation as baseless.
“The Shin Bet’s accusations…are baseless; they are mere lies,” the group said in a statement. “The Israeli accusations are aimed at preventing West Bank [Palestinian] students from traveling abroad to pursue their students and providing a justification for their arrest upon their return,” it added.
Malaysia, for its part, does not seem convinced by the new evidence. Deputy Home Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar told The Malaysian Insider that Israel was simply manufacturing reasons to oppose the country.
“This is ridiculous, they are creating reasons to oppose Malaysia,” Wan Junaidi said. “You know this is what they [Israel] always do, when they dislike a country…”
Separately, Malaysia’s police chief Khalid Abu Bakar also denied the allegation that Palestinian students were being recruited for such activities.
“We strongly deny this wild accusation. However, we can confirm that Palestinians are here for their formal education in many universities, just as their fellow countrymen are doing in other countries,” Khalid told The Sun.