'PA detains Hamas members planning J'lem bombing'

Operatives also planned to undermine political stability and Fatah control in W. Bank, Ma'an reports.

November 18, 2010 02:34
2 minute read.
Hamas forces in Gaza City.

Hamas forces 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

Palestinian Authority security forces arrested several members of Hamas’s armed wing, Izzadin Kassam, who were planning to carry out a suicide bombing in Jerusalem, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported on Wednesday.

The operatives had planned to undermine political stability and Fatah control in the West Bank, and to kill Nablus Mayor Adly Yaish, the report said.

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The Palestinian officials who informed Ma’an of the arrests claimed the Hamas cell was based in Nablus, with a support network stretching throughout the northern part of the West Bank.

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They said the PA forces had raided the group’s headquarters in the city, confiscating weapons and cash belonging to the men.

PA officials alleged that the terror cell members had also planned to kidnap Israeli West Bank residents.

Ma’an reported that a booby-trapped car intended to be used in a suicide bombing was also found in the raid.

The latest PA move against Hamas in the West Bank is being viewed by Israeli security officials as part of an impressive overall effort to stem the Islamist organization, according to Shlomo Brom, director of the program on Israeli-Palestinian relations at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies.

“The security community has been impressed by what they’ve been seeing over the past year,” Brom said.

“Hamas’s situation in the West Bank is not good, both because of Israel’s actions – Israel recently declared that there were no more wanted suspects in the West Bank – and the efficient operations of the PA,” Brom added.

The PA had an interest in ensuring that the West Bank avoided a Hamas coup like the one in Gaza, he said.

Brom added that Hamas’s twin shooting attacks in the West Bank earlier this year, in which four Israelis were killed and two others wounded, represented the maximum number of attacks the organization could produce in the West Bank.

“The PA worked with effectiveness to uncover the Hamas cells behind them,” he said.

Asked which of the two Palestinian organizations was wining the battle for public opinion in the West Bank, Brom said recent opinion polls showed that the majority of Palestinians there supported Fatah. He added, however, that the West Bank had a proportionally larger number of Hamas supporters than Gaza did, since Gaza residents understood the burdens of living under Hamas rule better than their West Bank counterparts.

Still, the surveys did not provide an accurate forecast of any future elections, Brom warned, since Fatah suffers from notorious organizational problems during election periods, leading the PA to cancel municipal elections scheduled to have taken place recently.

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