Hamas is setting the stage for a takeover of the West Bank similar to the coup in which the terror group seized control of the Gaza Strip, according to Israeli and Palestinian security officials.

Hamas leaders confirmed to WND they are planning a West Bank takeover.

“Fatah will fall in a matter of weeks at most, and the Islamic resistance (Hamas) will reign in the West Bank just as we do in Gaza,” said Abu Abdullah, considered one of the most important operational members of Hamas’ so-called resistance department.

The West Bank borders Jerusalem and is within rocket range of Tel Aviv and Israel’s international airport.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, slated to arrive here next week for her second visit this month, has been serving as mediator for an upcoming U.S.-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian summit later this month. At the meeting, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is widely expected to outline a Palestinian state in most of the West Bank, ultimately handing the strategic territory to security forces associated with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah militias.

But Israeli security officials are warning Abbas’ forces are not strong enough to contend with controlling the West Bank without the aid of the Israel Defense Forces.

Yuval Diskin, head of Israel’s Shin Bet Security Services, estimated during a Knesset meeting earlier his week that if control of the West Bank were handed over to Abbas, Israel would suffer a “significant threat to its security.”

Palestinian security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, admitted to WND they cannot control the West Bank without Israeli intervention.

According to the officials, Fatah’s intelligence apparatus routinely hands the IDF lists of Hamas militants that threaten Fatah rule, requesting that Israel make arrests.

Israeli and Palestinian security officials told WND they have specific information Hamas is quietly setting the stages for an imminent 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 for a seizure attempt.

In what is considered the most threatening Hamas move, according to the officials, the terror group is thought to have heavily infiltrated all major Fatah forces in the West Bank and has been attempting to buy off Fatah militia members, many times successfully.

According to Palestinian sources, Hamas has, among other things, recruited important members of Fatah’s declared military wing, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. The terror group particularly has targeted those who were against a deal this past summer in which Olmert extended amnesty to Brigades members as a gesture to Abbas.

The Brigades, along with the Islamic Jihad terror group, has taken responsibility for every suicide bombing in Israel the past three years along with thousands of shootings and rocket firings against Jewish civilian population centers.

According to the Palestinian sources, a West Bank shooting against a Jewish vehicle last week carried out by the Brigades was planned by Hamas. The shooting, in which a man was seriously wounded at a major junction near the Jewish community of Ariel, was perpetrated by a Brigades cell calling itself the Army of al-Boraq, named after the Muslim prophet Muhammad’s horse. The cell used weapons given by Hamas, the sources said.

The issue of Hamas infiltration of Fatah was thought to have been the Achilles heel that led to the terror group’s takeover last summer of the entire Gaza Strip, including dozens of major, U.S.-backed Fatah security compounds there. Hamas’ seizure is thought to be a partial consequence of Israel evacuating Gaza in 2005.

Hamas’ infiltration of Fatah was so extensive, according to top Palestinian intelligence sources speaking to WND, it included the chiefs of several prominent Fatah security forces, including Yussef Issa, director of the Preventative Security Services, the main Fatah police force. Issa regularly coordinated security with the U.S. and Israel.

WND first reported Hamas’ infiltration of Fatah in April, quoting a high-ranking Palestinian intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, stating Fatah is extensively infiltrated by Hamas.

A senior Abbas aide, Nabil Amr, admitted Fatah security forces are in a “state of infiltration” by Hamas.

Hamas’ Abu Abdullah told WND Fatah in the West Bank is heavily infiltrated by Hamas.

“Fatah hasn’t yet touched the extent of our infiltration [of their groups] in the West Bank.”

Muhammad Abdel-El, spokesman for the Hamas-allied Popular Resistance Committees terror group, told WND his group and Hamas have infiltrated “very deep” in Fatah.

“We already are planning to obtain American weapons and take over the West Bank like we did in Gaza with help from the Palestinian resistance, including elements in Fatah, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and the Fatah Security Services. The Committees and Hamas has infiltrated very deep in Fatah,” Abdel-El said.

Top Hamas leaders vowed to stage soon a coup in the West Bank.

Earlier this week, Nizar Rayyan, a senior Hamas leader, stated Hamas will soon control Abbas’ office in the West Bank.

“In the autumn, Hamas supporters will be praying in the Muqata compound in Ramallah (the site of Abbas’ presidential office),” he said. “We are now praying at the presidential compound in Gaza, just as we said we would. Abbas’ regime will fall like a leaf come autumn.”



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