Jerusalem – The Middle East News Line has confirmed that Hamas has been secretly training paramilitary forces in Judea and Samaria, also known as the West Bank.

Palestinian Authority (PA) security sources said Hamas’ Executive Force has been training in combat and weapons skills in several areas of the West Bank. They said the Executive Force, secretly formed in the West Bank in 2007, has selected the Judean Desert south of Bethlehem for training.

“Hamas has trained units of the EF for attacks on Fatah and the PA, and they have been equipped with weapons and radios,” a PA security source said.

These sources said PA intelligence has tracked EF units south and east of Bethlehem. They said scores of Hamas fighters were found training in remote desert areas controlled by Israel.

“The Israeli military doesn’t patrol these areas, so they are wide open for Hamas,” the source said. “Most of the training is done without live fire, but there is plenty of physical exercises as well as instructions on how to fight PA police at street demonstrations.”

Hamas was believed to be in control of most of the villages around Bethlehem and Hebron in the West Bank. The sources said Hamas has also been the dominant influence of 70 percent of mosques throughout the West Bank.

PA security forces have arrested about 700 Hamas operatives since June 2007, about 150 of whom remain in detention. Over the last week, PA units arrested four suspected EF commanders in the Bethlehem area.

In response, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum has called for a coup against the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria.

Mr. Barhoum has warned against a Middle East conference in Washington in November and the prospect that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas would be overthrown.

Bank Hapoalim

Severs Ties With Gaza

The management of Israel’s largest bank, Bank Hapoalim, has decided to sever the bank’s links with financial institutions in the Gaza Strip, in the wake of last week’s decision by the government to declare that Gaza is a hostile entity. This means that as of today it will not be possible to transfer money to banks in Gaza from Bank Hapoalim. Within 30 days, there will be no banking activity between the largest bank in Israel and its counterparts in the Gaza Strip.

The Israel Discount Bank, which also has economic connections with Gaza, is continuing its financial activities in the Gaza Strip in the meantime, but in the next few days the management will convene and probably adopt a similar decision to that of Bank Hapoalim.

In an official announcement, Bank Hapoalim said: “In light of the government’s decision to declare the Gaza Strip hostile territory, Bank Hapoalim has decided to cease its banking activity with the banks and the branches located in the Gaza Strip. The governor of the Bank of Israel, Prof. Stanley Fischer, and the supervisor of banks, Roni Hizkiyahu, approved the decision.”

The scale of the banking activity between the banking system in Israel and the Gaza Strip has been estimated at millions of shekels each month. “The decision of Bank Hapoalim will lead to the collapse of the economy in the Gaza Strip,” said Palestinian cabinet minister Ashraf Ajram. “The human suffering there will be very serious and it will play into the hands of Hamas. It is the ordinary people who will suffer, because Hamas has ways of smuggling money into Gaza.

“This decision makes it difficult for our government to function,” Mr. Ajram added. “If the Israeli banks sever their links with Gaza, we will not be able to transfer salaries to our employees there.”

David Bedein can be reached at His Web site is

©The Bulletin 2007


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Previous articleWhere is the Issue of Education for Peace in the Olmert-Rice-Abbas Initiative?
Next articleAbout 100 Shells Fired In One Week On Israeli Kibbutz
David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: and A new site,, will be launched very soon.