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TEL AVIV, Israel – Hamas, concerned about its international image after taking over the Palestinian Authority, has “subcontracted” the Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees to commit terror acts in its place, with new Committees militants even pledging allegiance to Hamas as part of their induction, according to a study just released.
“There are strong indications the Popular Resistance Committees has become a kind of Hamas subcontractor. Handling the Committees behind the scenes enables Hamas to encourage terrorist attacks against Israel while outwardly maintaining its policy of restraint and coping with the political exigencies resulting from the composition of its government,” stated a report by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at Israel’s Center for Special Studies.
The Popular Resistance Committees has been responsible for many of the rockets fired from the Gaza Strip at nearby Jewish communities the past few years. It has also been accused of carrying out the 2003 attack on a U.S. convoy in Gaza in which three Americans were killed.
Last week, Committees members attempted to carry out a large-scale car bombing at the Karni Crossing, the main cargo passageway between the Gaza Strip and Israel. The attack was foiled at the last minute after Palestinian forces became suspicious and opened fire at an approaching vehicle. The car, which was safely captured, contained “enormous” amounts of explosives meant to be detonated at the border crossing inside Israel, security sources said. Six Israelis were killed in a similar attack last year.
Israel’s Shin Bet Security Services announced this week the order to carry out the Karni attack was given to the Committees by Hamas senior member Ahmed Randor. It said Hamas has previously directed funds to the Committees.
Hamas officially took over of the PA last month after winning January’s parliamentary elections by a large margin. It appointed Jamal Abu Samhadana, overall leader of the Popular Resistance Committees, to the post of interior minister and general supervisor of the Palestinian police.
The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center report stated Samhadana, who has a long history of anti-Israel violence and of collaboration with Hamas, made it clear he intended to continue as head of the Committees and attack Israel even after his appointment to the Hamas administration.
The report referenced Israeli interrogations carried out last November in which arrested Committees members allegedly stated Hamas provided their organization extensive operational support including arms, training, attack instructions and monthly funding.
One arrested Committees member allegedly told interrogators new recruits to his terror group were routinely brought before local Hamas representatives to swear their allegiance.
The Center also quoted from an interview posted on the Popular Resistance Committees website featuring one of its senior members describing methods his terror group used to coordinate anti-Israel attacks with Hamas.
“We receive material aid from Hamas, as do six or seven military factions which belong to the Fatah movement,” stated Committees member Abu Yussuf al-Qoqa, who was killed by a car bomb in March.
“We will stand by [Hamas] and support them in everything we can for the sake of the success of the Islamic resistance program since Islam is the only way the rights robbed from the Palestinians will be returned,” al-Qoqa said.
Some here have questioned whether the Committees have been coordinating their attacks with al-Qaida, which could represent a prominent, working relationship between the global jihad group, the Committees and Hamas.
Last week’s attempted Karni Crossing attack was set to take place at the same time two suicide bombs exploded near a multinational peacekeeping force in the Sinai adjacent to Gaza.
Immediately following the attacks, Palestinian security officials, including the chief of a Palestinian Authority intelligence agency, told WND the suicide bombing in the Sinai and thwarted Karni attack were coordinated and were the handiwork of groups working on behalf of al-Qaida.
The Palestinian security officials said the Gaza-based Committees terrorists involved in the thwarted Karni attack likely were able to travel in recent months to the Sinai through Gaza’s Rafah Crossing, the main checkpoint between Egypt at Gaza. A Committees leader recently told WND he traveled from Gaza to the Sinai “for vacation.”
“Al-Qaida came just a few feet from attacking Israel for the first time [at Karni],” said the intelligence chief, speaking on condition his name be withheld.
Israeli security officials have refrained for now from releasing any information linking the Committees’ foiled Karni Crossing attack to the suicide bombings in the Sinai or to al-Qaida. The information Israeli intelligence agencies have released publicly about the Karni attack has not even referenced the Sinai bombings, which occured at the exact time the foiled attack was to take place just a few miles away.
An Israeli security official told WND yesterday, “I would not be surprised if we find out that both the attacks were coordinated and were directed by al-Qaida, but for now we are not putting that out.”