In a recent interview with the Jewish Journal, Micha Koubi, a former Shabak (Israel Security Agency) member, provided insights into Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas and the mastermind of the Oct. 7 massacre. Koubi was born in 1945 in Tiberias to a family who arrived in Israel from North Africa in the late 18th century. He also served in the IDF’s elite special forces, Sayeret Matkal, which earned him the Medal of Distinguished Service for his involvement in complex and dangerous operations.
During his time with the Shabak, Koubi played a crucial role as the primary interrogator and analyst of Sinwar. This experience led him to express anger over Sinwar’s release in the Shalit deal in 2011, and to warn of the potential consequences of such a deal. He is now actively opposing the release of terrorists in exchange for hostages, emphasizing the gravity of such decisions in light of the chilling promise Sinwar fulfilled over 30 years after his release from the Israeli prison.
“We would bring him to the interrogation room with his hands tied behind his back,” Koubi said. “He and other senior Hamas members in Israeli prisons were dangerous individuals and we took all precautions necessary. Before incarceration, Sinwar murdered with a machete 12 people he suspected of collaborating with Israel, after being imprisoned, he killed three more in prison, with razors. It’s no wonder he earned the moniker ‘The Butcher of Khan Yunis.’ I was certain he’d be serving a life sentence.”
Koubi arrived in Los Angeles at the invitation of Beit Halochem (Hebrew for House of Warriors), rehabilitation centers that serve over 50,000 disabled veterans and their family members. A new center is set to open soon in Ashdod. Since the attack on Israel on Oct. 7th, 4,500 new wounded soldiers have joined the center, many of them suffering from severe injuries, including missing limbs, blindness, burns, and PTSD. Koubi himself is a member of Beit Halochem, having been injured in a covert action some 25 years ago. Since then, he has volunteered and assisted other wounded soldiers.
During his visit in L.A. he gave seven lectures recounting his time as the lead interrogator of Hamas terrorists and especially, Sinwar. “Ahmed Yassin [the imam who served as Hamas leader at the time] gave Sinwar ‘Fatwa’ (Arabic for a legal ruling), to tell us everything he knew. He gave us information but also promised, ‘I will be released and at the right time and when I’ll be ready, I will enter Israeli communities with my soldiers and we will kidnap, rape and murder your people, we will do everything.’ He wasn’t ashamed and spoke about it proudly.”
It was 1989, and Hamas was in its early stages with only 500 members. Koubi understood the grave danger Israel was facing from this terrorist organization and warned Israeli leaders. “I told them, ‘Let’s eliminate them now when they’re still small before it grows to monstrous proportions.’ They were all in our hands, in our prison. I knew back then that Hamas wouldn’t surrender; they fight to be martyrs. I remember interrogating Sinwar; he had the piercing eyes of a murderer. This man was completely emotionless, a brutal killer. I called him a Nazi and told everyone possible that this organization must be eliminated, but they didn’t listen to me. We found many ‘Mein Kampf’ books in his house as well as rubber knives. He was in charge of education in Gaza and would distribute them in day care to two-year-olds, where they would hold a competition over who would kill more Jews. By the age of four, they would receive wooden guns. Later, when they grew up to be teenagers, he would train them to shoot rifles and teach them how to be martyrs. The same children he trained are the killers of the Nakba today.”
During the 22 years Sinwar spent in an Israeli prison, he became fluent in Hebrew. However, Koubi made the strategic decision to interrogate him in Arabic, a language he had learned during his service in Sayeret Matkal.
“I participated in numerous operations in various enemy countries. Before each operation, I would immerse myself in studying Arabic for three full months, learning the dialect of the region I was going to. This extensive preparation made me a proficient undercover operative. I utilized all my skills. I also studied the Quran extensively. It was crucial to know the language of the Quran so that they would understand that I could engage with them on equal terms. They actually appreciated it greatly — that I could go head-to-head with them in many areas and even surpass them with my knowledge.”
Despite Koubi’s repeated warnings not to release Sinwar and the other Hamas members, in October 2011, 1,027 Palestinian prisoners were released in exchange for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who was captured by Hamas and held in Gaza for over five years. According to Israeli government sources, the released prisoners were collectively responsible for 569 Israeli deaths.
“I was very angry they released him,” Koubi said. “I was among those who claimed that the number of Israeli victims would be enormous as a result of their release, and I said that it must be stopped. Indeed, as soon as they were released, they immediately returned to their terror activity, which resulted in 850 deaths.”
Koubi bristled when the conversation turned to releasing terrorists for the Israeli hostages. “It’s a delicate subject and a very complex one,” he said. “I oppose the release of terrorists of any kind. They should languish in prison. It is inconceivable that murderers, people with blood on their hands, will be set free and start murdering again. Everyone who has been released to date in most transactions has returned to engage in terror acts.”
Koubi believes the Israeli government lets public pressure dictate its decisions. It happened with the Shalit deal, and it’s happening today. “Only the IDF and the Shabak can return the hostages. Only them. You have to give them time; you have to let them work quietly. The Shin Bet thwarts more than 90% of terrorist attacks; if it weren’t for them, we would be in terrible chaos.”
As for the day after the war, Koubi said Israel needs to eradicate Hamas completely, not allow Abu Mazen (PA President and PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas) any position of power and help establish a new Palestinian authority in the area. “We should eliminate anyone who was involved in the massacre and kidnapping of Israelis on Oct. 7th and we know that there were thousands of Palestinian civilians who were involved in looting, raping and killing of Israelis.”
Asked about the possibility of the Oct. 7 massacre occurring without the release of Sinwar, Koubi stated while there could have been another leader and a different Hamas organization that might have attacked Israel, the result would have been less catastrophic. He estimates that Sinwar bears at least 75% of the responsibility for the attack.
Koubi emphasized that Sinwar “hates Israel passionately. As long as he lives, he will want to hurt Jews as much as possible. He wants to continue deceiving us so that we will agree to withdraw from fighting – and so that he can return to control the Strip.”
Koubi emphasized that Sinwar “hates Israel passionately. As long as he lives, he will want to hurt Jews as much as possible. He wants to continue deceiving us so that we will agree to withdraw from fighting – and so that he can return to control the Strip. He doesn’t want to negotiate, but will try until his death to withdraw the deal for the release of the hostages. He has no problem dying. He wants to die as a martyr, the hero of Islam and Hamas.”
To learn about Beit Halochem: https://www.israeliwoundedveterans.org