On Wednesday, Israel’s security agency (Shin Bet) alleged that Hamas in the Gaza Strip was attempting to recruit Palestinians in the West Bank that would act as facilitators to attacks against Israelis. The alleged operation is another sign of Hamas’ attempts to foment violence in the West Bank as a part of an overall strategy to undermine the Palestinian Authority (PA) and keep Israeli security forces bogged down in almost daily operations while it rearms itself after Operation Guardian of the Walls in 2021.
The Shin Bet stated that Hamas deportees from the Shalit Deal attempted to recruit Palestinians — most without the knowledge they were being recruited by Hamas — to assist in funds and arms transfers that would be used in strikes against Israelis. While the Shin Bet did not give a specific date when the operation was thwarted, the agency said “in recent weeks” it and Israeli police “have been conducting an intelligence effort that led to the disclosure of a phenomenon in which Hamas operatives from Gaza are exploiting Palestinian youths in the West Bank.”
The Shin Bet’s statement provided some detail about Hamas’ modus operandi. In one example, a Hamas operative calling himself Khaled Taleb who worked for a Turkish delivery company reached out to Salam Zeid, a Palestinian from the Jalazon refugee camp. Zeid was asked to transfer funds between different areas controlled by the PA. Though according to the Shin Bet, Zeid was unware the funds were intended for members of Hamas.
Another example detailed by the Shin Bet alleged that Taleb falsely represented himself as someone working for Muhammed Dahlan, a Fatah rival to PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Taleb asked Zeid to purchase arms and ammunition for an “official”, presumably a member of Fatah, and deliver it to the West Bank village of Hawarra. Zeid transferred the arms and ammunition to two individuals that used it to carry out shooting assaults against Israeli vehicles.
The Shin Bet stated that “dozens of residents who were in contact with Hamas operatives in Gaza were arrested and interrogated in the West Bank.” It also added that “some of them did not know at all that they were involved in an activity whose purpose was to carry out terrorist attacks.”
The agency also provided some detail on Farah Hamed, who it accused of being one of the Hamas members in Gaza behind the operation to recruit Palestinians in the West Bank. Hamed was released and deported to Gaza as a part of the Shalit deal in 2011.
The Shin Bet said Israeli authorities will revoke the entry permits (to work in Israel) of approximately 230 Gazans whose relatives are involved in terrorist attacks.
Last year, the Shin Bet revealed it thwarted several Hamas operations directed from Gaza. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report: Hamas Operatives in Gaza Continue to Direct Attacks in the West Bank.]
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