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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
For the first time, Israel uncovered evidence of the Global Islamic Jihad movement within Israel's borders, according to data presented by Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin at the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday.
The Israeli army foiled attempts by the Jihad movement to set up an "ideological camp" in the areas surrounding Nablus and Jerusalem.
The group's infiltration of the region has been closely watched by Israeli intelligence officials, who said that the international funding network behind the group made them "a serious security threat that we cannot allow to happen."
"We have intercepted plans to carry out attacks, but those plans were not operational," said Diskin.
The Global Jihad movement already has an infrastructure in place in Jordan, but authorities there have been effective in stemming the spread of the movement, said Diskin. The situation was more troubling in Egypt, said the Shin Bet chief, where cells have been set up and the Egyptian authorities have been unable to curb weapons smuggling.
Meanwhile, Diskin also raised alarm over the increase in weapons smuggling in the Gaza Strip. The amount of weapons and explosives smuggled into the Gaza Strip since the disengagement was larger than the total amount smuggled into Gaza since the Six Day War, Diskin said.
According to Diskin there were 11 tons of TNT, three million bullets, 19,600 rifles, 1,600 pistols, 65 RPG launchers, 430 RPGs and some 10 shoulder rocket launchers smuggled into the Gaza Strip since the IDF left in September 2005.
"The Hamas is using the relative calm and freedom from the Israeli military presence to build up its power by developing its militias," Diskin said. "These developments could pose serious threats to Israel."
Israel has been closely monitoring the brewing situation in the Palestinian Authority, added Diskin. He said that despite the current standoff between the two parties, he believed neither side wanted a civil war.
According to Diskin, Hamas is encountering problems paying PA salaries, saying that it was ironic that most of this money was owed to Fatah employees. "Hamas is aware that they need to pay this money as it is the motor driving the PA economy," said Diskin.
The Shin Bet head added that there was an internal struggle within Hamas between "those who want to make an entrance onto the international stage and those who want to continue their pursuit of terror."
Concerning the three-day extension Abbas granted to Hamas to accept the prisoners document, Diskin said that Abbas had started something of crucial importance but that he "doesn't know how it would all end." He stressed that Israel would not interfere with proceedings.
"Iran is putting pressure on Hizbullah to carry out attacks on Israeli targets," he said, adding that more than 20 million dollars had been smuggled in suitcases to the Hamas movement.