Prince of Hamas spent 10 years as a spy for Israel.
Mosab Hassan Yousef in Israeli military uniform, appearing in the 2014 documentary The Blue Prince about his life as a spy. Photo : The Green Prince

Meet Mosab Hassan Yousef, a man whose life reads like the plot of a spy thriller, but it’s a true story. Mosab, the son of a co-founder of Hamas, spent nearly a decade working as an insider for Israeli intelligence under the code name “Green Prince.” In a recent series of appearances on American and Western television channels, he openly condemned the actions of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, accusing the organization of knowingly escalating the conflict and disregarding the lives of Palestinian civilians.

The story begins with Mosab’s father, Hassan Yousef, who was one of the founding members of the armed movement Hamas in 1992. However, the relationship between father and son took a drastic turn over a decade ago when Mosab revealed two shocking pieces of information: he had converted to Christianity and had been working as an Israeli spy for more than ten years.

Prince of Hamas spent 10 years as a spy for Israel.

In his memoir, “Son of Hamas,” published in 2010, and a subsequent documentary, Mosab explained that he had never fully embraced the extremist political stance and armed struggle advocated by Hamas. His dissenting views and close connections within the organization made him a prime recruitment target for Israeli intelligence.

The recruitment campaign was initiated by the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) in the mid-1990s. This intelligence agency, one of Israel’s three major pillars of intelligence, saw an opportunity when Mosab was arrested in 1996 for illegal weapons possession in the Gaza Strip.

During this time, the Oslo peace agreement between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel, aimed at a two-state solution, had reached an impasse following the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. Extremist elements on both sides were eroding the prospects for peace.

As Hamas gained influence in Gaza with a more militant stance, Mosab’s time in an Israeli prison allowed him to witness the brutal actions of Hamas members, even against their own supporters. This experience further deepened his doubts about the organization’s path.

Shin Bet noticed Mosab’s disillusionment and convinced him to become a spy. After reaching an agreement, he was released in 1997 and began his undercover work within Hamas under the alias “Green Prince.”

Gonen ben Yitzhak, an Israeli Navy veteran, served as Mosab’s handler and contact point. He described Mosab as a hero and emphasized the invaluable nature of the information he provided.

Over the course of ten years, Mosab Hassan Yousef aided Israeli intelligence in thwarting numerous attack plans and revealing high-level Hamas secrets. He supplied information on the whereabouts of key Hamas leaders involved in suicide bombings during the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Mosab’s dedication was not driven by monetary gain but by a deep belief in the righteousness of his actions. His intelligence information proved to be exceptionally valuable, providing insights and understanding that would have taken extensive research by experts.

One operation stands out, where Mosab prevented a suicide bombing by identifying the suspect in a crowded square, leading to the capture of both the bomber and the supplier without any public incident.

Michael Bar-Zohar, a former Israeli parliamentarian and intelligence expert, hailed Mosab as the greatest spy in the country’s history. He noted that Mosab’s recruitment was a significant achievement for Israeli intelligence.

However, the cooperation between Mosab and Shin Bet came to an end in 2007 when his handler, Gonen ben Yitzhak, was fired. The trust between the parties deteriorated as Mosab began advocating for a peaceful solution and closer cooperation between his father and the PLO. Shin Bet, on the other hand, wanted Hassan Yousef to maintain his loyalty to Hamas’s extremist policies.

Mosab eventually moved to the United States, where he pursued a variety of careers, including yoga instruction and providing analysis on Hamas and Palestinian armed movements.

In 2012, he returned to Israel, receiving a hero’s welcome, while Palestinians considered him a traitor. For nearly a decade, Mosab remained relatively silent in the media, and there is limited information about his current whereabouts.

Mosab Hassan Yousef’s remarkable journey from a Hamas family to becoming an Israeli spy is a testament to the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the human drama that unfolds within it.