Arrest of activists signals Hamas involvement in upsurge in West Bank violence
The Israel Security Agency (ISA) announced on Monday the arrest of seven Hamas operatives suspected of planning attacks against Israeli citizens in the West Bank.
During the ISA’s investigation, it was discovered that the suspects had been recruited by Hamas to carry out shootings and bombings. They were also supported financially to plan, train and carry out strikes, although the ISA did not reveal how the funds were transferred to the agents.
According to the ISA, the operatives were in contact with Yahya Saifan, a Hamas operative in the Gaza Strip who oversees the recruitment of overseas operatives to carry out attacks and incitement. The ISA alleged that Saifan trained the suspects in the production of explosives and gave instructions to carry out assaults.
The ISA designated the suspects as Musab al-Haymouni, Ahmed Abu Daoud, Izz al-Din el-Zin, Emad Abu Khalaf and Abdullah Quasma as members of Hamas from Hebron. Mamon Hanani and Kamal Hanani from the village of Beit Furik were also named in the ISA announcement.
The ISA said the suspects were arrested in September, although a FDD Long War Diary open-source analysis of some of the published names reveals more information.
Palestinian social media reported that Israel Defense Forces (IDF) troops arrested Abdullah Jihad al-Qawasmeh in Hebron on April 14. Later, on June 28, Palestinian media reported that the IDF had arrested a “former prisoner” Musab al-Haymouni. Finally, on September 7, the Israeli army posted a tweet saying that it had carried out a arrest operation in the West Bank which, according to Palestinian media, included the village of Beit Furik.
FDD Long War Diary cannot independently corroborate information reported by IDF and Palestinian media networks.
The arrest of the militants signals continued efforts by Hamas to direct attacks against IDF troops and Israeli civilians during a major increase in violence inside the West Bank. Since last year, militant organizations led by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades have increased their presence in several towns in the northern West Bank. In addition, they have established units loyal to the organizations in Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarem and Tubas which regularly clash with IDF troops. [See FDD’s Long War Journal: Analysis: Understanding the Militant Groups Behind the Violence in the West Bank]
While the PIJ and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades have taken credit for much of the strikes in the West Bank, Hamas stands to benefit the most during this period of significant violence. The weakening of Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority coupled with the instability created by near-daily reports of attacks creates a narrative for Palestinians that a West Bank ruled by Hamas is a viable alternative to the current authority whose influence is eroding more with each passing day.
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