Israel charges man who fled Gaza by swimming

Jerusalem (AFP) –


An Israeli court Thursday charged with "serious security offences" a Gazan who swam to Israel a month ago after falling out with Hamas, the domestic security agency said.

Izz al-Din Hussein, a 24-year-old resident of Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip, was formerly a member of the Islamist group's air defence wing, Shin Bet said in a statement.

It said Hussein kept a shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile at his home which he had been ordered to fire at any Israeli army helicopter landing nearby.

It did not say if he had used it.

Hussein, the Shin Bet said, later fell out with the Palestinian coastal territory's Hamas rulers and also had "personal problems with his family" and fled by swimming to nearby Israel on June 28.

An Israeli military statement said he was captured by the navy immediately after entering Israeli waters and handed to the Shin Bet for questioning.

The security service said Hussein's interrogation produced "a great deal of intelligence about the organisation".

Earlier this month, Hamas blocked two Saudi-owned news networks, Al-Arabiya and Al-Hadath, from operating in Gaza over allegations of false reporting.

It concerned a report alleging that Hamas had arrested several of its members for collaborating with Israel.

Al-Arabiya also reported on Hussein's escape by sea.

Hamas on Thursday did not immediately respond to AFP's request for comment on the Hussein case.