Israel’s intelligence community has assessed that Hamas was preparing to rebuild its operational and sleeper network in the West Bank.
Israel Government sources said the intelligence community has issued an assessment that Hamas wanted to use the new Palestinian Authority unity government to restore a major military presence in the West Bank. They said the Israel Security Agency and Military Intelligence agreed that PA security forces would be restrained by Hamas’ influence or control over the PA Interior Ministry and Islamic Affairs Ministry.
“Hamas’ goal is to expand and strengthen its status among the Palestinians, bring them closer to its ideology, including the notion of holy war against Israel, and even recruiting on its behalf supporters and partakers in terrorist activities,” ISA said in its assessment.
ISA has determined that Hamas would first revive its indoctrination, or Dawa, network. They said the network of mosques and Koran study groups would serve as the source of sleeper cells and recruitment of suicide bombers and other attackers.
“Hamas intends to block PA intelligence and security operations unless specifically ordered by [PA Chairman Mahmoud] Abbas,” a source said.
The assessment asserted that the 79-year-old Abbas would not order any genuine counter-insurgency campaign against Hamas. Instead, Abbas, pressured by Israel and the United States, was expected to reinforce personal security and that of his family and senior aides.
“Anyone hoping that the Palestinian union of Fatah and Hamas will make Hamas more moderate is wrong,” Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said. “Instead of the PA taking control in Gaza, there are more and more signs that the exact opposite will happen. This means Hamas will increase its control over the PA in Judea and Samaria [West Bank].”
The intelligence assessment said Hamas aims to build an alternative to the PA, including schools, day care, clinics and mosques. The intelligence community expected Hamas to receive hundreds of millions of dollars from such allies as Qatar and Turkey.
“Over the long term, Hamas intends to create an alternative civilian infrastructure that will enable the replacement of the PA’s secular government with an Islamic government whose ideology will be similar to that of Hamas,” the ISA assessment said. “The Dawa network — Hamas’ socio-economic infrastructure — is a central element in Hamas’ activity and a principal method employed to achieve its goals.”