IDF source: Hamas gaining strength in West Bank

Hamas focusing activities on indoctrinating Palestinians in its extremist ideology, creating social assistance programs.

October 21, 2012 23:47
1 minute read.
Hamas members take part in a rally

Hamas members take part in a rally 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

Hamas is getting stronger in the West Bank, but is focusing its activities on indoctrinating Palestinians in its extremist ideology and creating social assistance programs, an IDF source said Sunday.

The West Bank branch of Hamas is focused on Da’wa – social aid programs mixed with indoctrination – in order to build up its base of supporters, the source from the Judea and Samaria Division added.

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It is also preoccupied with a program called “Kutla,” which entails recruiting university students by spreading jihadi ideology among them, according to the source.

A year after the release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, fears that the release would lead to a substantial increase in terrorism have been proven false, the source said.

“The threat has been contained in the West Bank,” he said, largely due to restrictions on the prisoners and Israel’s intelligence capabilities in the area. “What we’re seeing is that the Palestinian public is preoccupied with itself. Terrorism could resurface [in the future], but the prisoner release had no special influence,” he added.

Former prisoners in the West Bank must stay in their local areas for three years, and cannot cross into Israel for the next decade. They must also report to the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria on a regular basis.

In Gaza, however, the prisoners have joined Hamas’s efforts to channel funds to its cells in the West Bank, particularly in the area between Nablus and Jenin. Millions of shekels in terror financing have been seized by security forces in the first half of 2012.

The deal has also increased the chances of an attempt to kidnap soldiers for future prisoner releases.

IDF forces under the Judea and Samaria Division have held drill responses to the threat intensively. The army has also launched a campaign to heighten awareness among soldiers to the threat of kidnapping.

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