Huff Post: For nearly 10 years, Israel had a top informant in one of the most unlikely places — the family of one of the co-founders of the Palestinian organization Hamas.
Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of Hamas leader Sheikh Hassan Yousef, worked with agents from Israel’s intelligence agency Shin Bet from 1997 to 2007. The new documentary “The Green Prince” highlights his journey from deep within the ranks of Hamas to working with Israel.
Yousef joined HuffPost Live on Friday to discuss his exceptional life story. Yousef told Josh Zepps that as a child, just like thousands of other Palestinians, he blamed Israel for the poverty and violence around him. It wasn’t until he spent over a year in an Israeli prison and was exposed to Hamas brutality that he began questioning his upbringing.
“Hamas people were torturing other Hamas members for suspicion of collaborating with Israel,” Yousef said. “When I saw Hamas’ brutality, I decided basically to question the nature of the movement and this was the beginning of a new journey … working with Israel to save human lives.”
Gonen Ben Itzhak, an Israeli security agent who worked with Yousef until eventually being fired for breaking protocol, also joined the conversation. He explained to Zepps that Israel had long been looking for someone within Hamas to collaborate with.
“We had a goal, and the goal was to stop killing .. We didn’t understand Hamas at the time, we didn’t know how it works, we didn’t know know Hamas’ secrets,” Itzhak said.
In “The Green Prince” Itzhak explains the difficulty of recruiting informants, of convincing someone to betray his own people.
As Yousef fed Israel information, he said his main objective was “to save human lives.”
“Whenever I had information about a suicide bomber, trust me, I did not hesitate a second to work very hard to stop a suicide bomber before they reached their target,” he said. “Suicide bombers did not kill only Israelis and themselves, they killed all types of people. They were against humanity.”
Yousef, who converted to Christianity, left for the United States in 2007. His book about his life and time as an informant came out in 2010.