JAFFA, Israel – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah organization suspects its U.S.-backed militias and official intelligence service have been infiltrated by the rival Hamas terrorist organization, according to PA sources speaking to WND.
The sources, speaking on condition their names be withheld, said the possible infiltration was highlighted Monday with a robbery on the office of Bethlehem’s attorney general, a leading Fatah member. The robbery received little media attention. The sources said many important documents detailing Hamas’ infrastructure in the West Bank and the Islamist group’s general activity disappeared from the Bethlehem office.
An internal Fatah police investigation found the break-in was orchestrated by elements in the PA’s general intelligence service to make it look like an outside robbery carried out by a criminal gang, the sources said.
A separate recent Fatah investigation quietly concluded the PA’s general intelligence service, as well as members of Fatah’s militias, are in a “heavy” state of infiltration by Hamas, the sources added.
The U.S. arms, trains and funds Fatah militias.
The issue of Hamas infiltration is significant since Hamas’ penetration of Fatah forces in the Gaza Strip was thought to have been the Achilles heel that led to the terror group’s 2007 takeover of the entire Gaza Strip in which it forcibly expelled Fatah.
‘Hamas setting stage for West Bank takeover’
Both Israeli and Palestinian security officials recently told WND they have specific information Hamas is quietly setting the stage for an eventual West Bank takeover attempt. The officials said that among other things, Hamas has been acquiring weaponry in the West Bank and has set up a sophisticated system of communication between cells that could be used in a seizure attempt.
The West Bank borders Jerusalem and is within rocket range of Tel Aviv and Israel’s international airport. The U.S. backs Israeli-Palestinian talks leading to the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank.
Yuval Diskin, head of Israel’s Shin Bet Security Services, estimated during a Knesset meeting last November that if control of the West Bank were handed over to Abbas, Israel would suffer a “significant threat to its security.”
A Fatah investigation last year – the results of which were shared with WND – found that Hamas was establishing a quasi-militia in the northern West Bank. The city of Jenin, for example, was thought to contain a Hamas infrastructure of gunmen numbered only in the dozens, but Fatah says it found out Hamas last purchased more than 600 high-powered assault rifles and distributed them to fighters in the city, the security officials said.
Palestinian officials said Fatah raids confiscated about 100 rifles in Jenin, but they believe 500 more were handed out by Hamas.
Fatah’s investigation last year found that members of its declared military wing, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror group, were recruited by Hamas in Jenin with higher paychecks, security officials said.
The investigation also found that many Fatah Brigades gunmen granted amnesty in June 2006 by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert sold their weapons to Hamas, which stockpiled and distributed the rifles in Jenin, said Palestinian security officials. The amnesty was granted as an Israeli gesture to bolster Abbas against Hamas and was conditioned on Brigades terrorists handing in their weapons to the PA for a fee.
Fatah’s 2008 investigation was initially sparked because of a noticeable spike in the price of assault rifles in the West Bank that year, Palestinian security officials told WND. The officials said Fatah also recently confiscated $350,000 in cash from a Hamas official in the West Bank city of Ramallah, which is considered a Fatah stronghold. The cash was meant to purchase more weapons for Hamas gunmen in the West Bank, the officials said.
WND recently conducted an exclusive interview with Mahmoud Al-Zahar, the Hamas chief in Gaza, who said Hamas is the rightful representative of the Palestinian people and should control the entire West Bank just as they rule the Gaza Strip.
“According to our rights, we are the elected majority, and a majority in a democracy should control all the Palestinian areas, whether in the West Bank or in the Gaza Strip. This is not an extraordinary issue,” said Al-Zahar, who is considered the second most powerful Hamas leader following the group’s overall chief, Khaled Meshaal, who resides in exile in Damascus.
“Do you respect democracy? If you respect democracy, the elections in January ’06 indicated Hamas is the majority and it should run the administration in Gaza and the West Bank,” said al-Zahar, speaking from Gaza.
Al-Zahar was referring to Palestinian legislative elections in 2006 in which Hamas was victorious by a large margin. Abbas unilaterally disbanded the Hamas-led Palestinian government after Hamas’ Gaza takeover.