GazaHassan Jedi/Flash 90

A former Hamas military commander who was accused of spying for Israel has escaped from a maximum-security prison in the Gaza Strip, JPost’s Khaled Abu Toameh reported Sunday.

The fugitive, Abed al-Karim Abu Odeh, 35, was arrested by Hamas in 2019 on suspicion of mapping underground tunnels with a tracking device he allegedly received from his Israeli handlers.

It was not clear how Abu Odeh, who was being held in the Ansar Prison in the Gaza Strip, managed to escape.

Hamas officials described Abu Odeh as an “extremely dangerous security prisoner” and offered a reward for information leading to his capture, according to JPost.

Hamas regularly claims to have captured “Israeli spies”, and many times it tries them and sentences them to death.

In October of 2018, the group claimed to have exposed and arrested a Palestinian Arab who had worked as an intelligence agent for Israel for 15 years.

In March of that year, the group claimed it had arrested a local man who had been working as a “spy” for Israel and who intended to convince Gazans not to take part in a violent protest march along the Gaza-Israel border.

This past October, two Palestinian Arab men from Khan Yunis and Rafah were sentenced to death by hanging by a Hamas court on charges of collaboration with Israel.

In theory all execution orders in the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) territories must be approved by PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who is based in Ramallah and who imposed a moratorium on executions several years ago.

Hamas no longer recognizes Abbas’ legitimacy, and has in the past emphatically declared that the death penalty in Gaza can be carried out without his consent.