Hamas naval vessel posing as fishing boat said destroyed off Gaza coast

A Hamas naval vessel posing as a fishermen’s boat off the Gaza coast this week was the source of a “potential threat” to Israeli ships in the area, according to an unsourced report by Channel 12 on Friday.

The network’s military correspondent reported that many of the details of the incident on Monday were banned from publication by the military censor, but the Hamas boat was destroyed and sunk by a missile fired by Israeli forces, according to the report which could not be verified.

It was not immediately clear how many people were aboard, but Channel 12 reported that the boat was operated by members of Hamas’s naval commando unit.

The Palestinian news site Shehab had reported that the boat was destroyed by two missiles off the coast of the Gazan city of Khan Younis.

Illustrative: A fisherman navigates rough seas along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in Gaza City, April 11, 2018. (Adel Hana/AP)

On Monday, the Israel Defense Forces said it uncovered a “potential threat” to naval ships off the Gaza coast, without elaborating on the nature of the threat.

“Earlier today, our troops spotted suspicious naval activity in the maritime zone along the Gaza Strip which posed a potential threat to Israeli Navy vessels,” the military said.

“IDF troops detected the activity and thwarted it,” the military added.

After initially saying additional information would be released about the incident, the military refrained from commenting further.

“The IDF will continue to take action against dangerous threats on the maritime front,” the military added.

Hamas naval commandos, seen in a still image from a propaganda video released by the terror group during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, in the summer of 2014. (Screen capture)

The Israeli military has repeatedly warned that the Hamas terror group, the de facto ruler of Gaza, as well as other terrorist organizations in the Strip have been developing a number of different maritime-based weapons, including naval mines, explosives-laden kamikaze boats and autonomous submarines.

A senior Israeli military commander said earlier this week that, according to IDF estimates, Hamas has replenished its arsenal since a 2014 war with Israel and now has a vast collection of rockets, guided missiles and drones.

It also has acquired dozens of unmanned aerial vehicles and has an army of some 30,000 men, including 400 naval commandos who have received sophisticated training and equipment to carry out seaborne operations, the commander added. He spoke on condition of anonymity under military guidelines.

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