'Son of Hamas' was key Israeli informer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The son of a prominent leader in the Hamas terrorist organization — who in 2008 publicly declared his faith in Jesus Christ — says in a new book that he provided top-secret intelligence to Israel for more than a decade, preventing dozens of suicide bombings and other attacks against Israelis.

Masab Yousef, who now prefers to be known as "Joseph," is the oldest son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, a political leader of the Hamas organization in the West Bank and one of the movement's most popular public figures. In his new book, "Son of Hamas," Masab Yousef asserts his conviction that the only hope for lasting peace in the Middle East is Christ's command to love one's enemies.

Yousef gave his life to Christ in 2004, four years after a friend invited him to a Bible study and he began to read the Christian Scriptures for himself.

In an interview with Israel's Haaretz newspaper, Yousef said he worked for Israeli intelligence only because he wanted to save lives.

"I saw torture, killing, a war over land. For me, human life and saving human lives is the most important thing, more important than any piece of land or real estate," Yousef told the newspaper. "I did not do it because the Shin Bet (Israeli intelligence) pressured me, or for money. I did it because I understood what Hamas really is and I had to make a change — for my sake and for the sake of others."

Knowing that he saved hundreds of lives — Israelis, Palestinians and Americans — is what gives him the strength to go on, knowing he is hated because he informed for the Israelis, Yousef said.

"I am not a Zionist and I did not work for the Zionists. I am not pro-Israeli or pro-Palestinian," Yousef said. "I worked for my God, who is the Father of all human beings wherever they are.... I chose to leave, because after 10 years of fighting terrorism, I understood that it is not the problem. Of course, it is important to fight terrorism, but if I think about the long term, the only way is not to do battle against suicide bombers but against their motivation."

The root problem between Israelis and Palestinians is that each side believes God has given the land to them, Yousef said.

"The root of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does not lie in security or politics," Yousef told Haaretz. "The Koran teaches that this is 'Waqf' land -- a sacred endowment which must not be given up. The Torah taught the Jews that this is their land and must not be given up."

Yousef believes the transforming power of Jesus Christ, which changed his heart toward Jews, is the only hope for an end to the violence that plagues the Middle East.

"I have met politicians. I have met presidents and prime ministers. I have met all the leaders of that region," Yousef told BP news during a 2008 interview. "None of them have a magical solution for this issue. They are leading people but they don't know where they are going.

"Even if they have a way out of this endless circle of violence between the two nations, none of them have the courage to do it," he added. "Both sides have many parties and every party has its own agenda. There are no strong leaders in that region who can make brave decisions."

The real path to peace in the Middle East, Yousef said, is the same path — the only path — a human heart can follow to find deep, lasting peace.

"Jesus is not going to give them a political solution, but He has changed me and He can change those people to a better people. He can teach them how to forgive, how to love," Yousef said. "Everybody on both sides is hurt -- not only Israelis, not only Palestinians. If we can teach them how to forgive and move on and love their enemies, for the next two generations, we can build a new leadership for both sides to be able to live together.

"Now, as it is, there is no hope for them but Jesus. It's that simple."