Jerusalem – While Israel remains preoccupied with the Kadima leadership elections, Hamas’ Shura council in Gaza quietly held elections on Aug. 20. The Shura council, its “Council of Torah Sages,” numbers about 50 members across the Gaza Strip, and it constitutes the source of authority ?for Hamas.
Most of the names of the new Shura members don’t mean much to most Israelis. But for those who monitor the list of Hamas men wanted for terror activity over the years, these names have special significance.
Those involved with Hamas’ 2007 takeover of Gaza have displaced those who were close to Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who was assassinated in 2004 in an Israeli air strike, in the terror group’s leadership.
These men include members of Hamas’ military wing such as Deputy Chief of Staff Ahmed Jaabari; Mr. Ahmed Randour and Mr. Marwan Issa, commanders of military ?areas; Yousef a-Zahar, head of the civilian police and brother of Hamas Foreign ?Minister Mahmoud a-Zahar; and Nazar Rian Majabliya, the mufti of the Hamas military wing.?
A number of old-timers remain including, ?Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, Foreign Minister Mahmoud a-Zahar and ?Mr. Said Siam, chairman of the supreme security council, as well as Sheikh?Nizar Awadallah and Hamas parliament member Khalil al-Haya.
Mr. Haya, who lost – as did Foreign ?Minister Mahmoud a-Zahar – two of his sons in the fighting against Israel, ?has close ties to the military wing, and apparently also the liaison with ?the Hamas office in Damascus. ? Although Israel enjoys the “tahdiya” (“calming” in Arabic) agreement with Hamas, brokered between both sides last June, Hamas openly bolsters its rule and is ?becoming more extreme.
Since June19, the quiet for the ?residents of the Western Negev communities has reduced the pressure on the politicians and, on the Israeli security establishment, to do something.??
As a result, fortifications in the Jewish communities in the Western Negev?proceed at a leisurely pace; however, arms smuggling in the Gaza Strip ?continues and Hamas grows stronger.??
The Israel Security Establishment works on the assumption that the “tahdiya” ?will end in December, because the agreement was guaranteed for six months.??By then, sources believe between 8,000 to 10,000 Qassam ?rockets of various types will be in the Gaza Strip. Miles of underground passages and bunkers, as were found in?Vietnam and among Hezbollah, have already been dug, to facilitate massive?Hamas missile strikes on against Western Negev, while providing Hamas with significant defenses in Gaza.
David Bedein can be reached at email@example.com. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2008