pa police karni 298 ap.
(photo credit: AP)
Senior Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) revealed on Sunday, funded and trained Palestinian terrorists who last week launched a thwarted terror strike on the Karni Crossing into the Gaza Strip. This was the first time since winning the Palestinian elections in January that Hamas was directly connected to anti-Israel terror activity.
A cell consisting of operatives from the Popular Resistance Committee (PRC), the Shin Bet revealed, arrived at the Palestinian side of Karni last Wednesday in three cars, one of which was filled with explosive canisters. The plan was to blow a hole in a wall dividing the PA side of the terminal from the Israeli side, which the gunmen would then use to infiltrate the crossing. The attack was however thwarted by PA policemen who stopped the cars at a roadblock leading into the crossing.
Security officials said that while Hamas has been putting on appearances that it had ceased its terror activity, in reality the group was funding and training PRC cells, which regularly fired Kassam rockets at Israeli targets from the northern Gaza Strip. Head of PRC in Gaza, Mumtaz Dugmash, officials said, regularly participated in Hamas meetings during which terror attacks were planned. Hamas, the officials said, not only funded PRC activities but also supplied the group with weaponry and additional professional assistance.
"At no point since agreeing to a hudna (cease-fire) with Israel in 2005, has Hamas ceased its terror activity," a Shin Bet official said Sunday. "They provide money and training to PRC operatives who perpetrate the attacks like the attempt on Karni last week."
The Shin Bet said it received intelligence indicating the involvement of four senior Hamas officials in the attempted attack on Karni last week including: Ahmed Andor, head of Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip and Ahmed Jabri, head of the Hamas military wing in Gaza. The same Hamas officials, the Shin Bet said, also directed and gave logistic support to a PRC cell, which assassinated Musa Arafat - Yasser Arafat's nephew and a security advisor to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas - in September.
Government officials noted the irony that while Hamas was warning of a humanitarian disaster inside the Gaza Strip, and while the Palestinian Authority was lobbying the world to pressure Israel to keep the Karni crossing open, Hamas was involved in an attack aimed at blowing up the crossing. Due to numerous terror specific warnings, Karni has been repeatedly opened and closed by Israel since the disengagement from Gaza last year. The closures are often depicted by the PA as collective punishment on the Palestinian people, which relies on the goods transferred through the crossing.
"Hamas spokespeople who have continuously complained to the western media of a so-called Israeli policy to starve the Palestinian people are now exposed as cynical hypocrites whose real agenda is nihilism. They have no scruples about bringing suffering on their own people to advance their own extreme political agenda," one government official in Jerusalem said.
A senior official in the Prime Minister's Office said that he was not surprised that Hamas' fingerprints were all over the attempted attack on Karni because Hamas has been using the Poplar Resistance Committees in Gaza as their front for involvement in terrorist operations.
"Hamas has never ceased its involvement," the official said, "they just did not take credit."
Israeli officials have said continuously since Hamas won the Palestinian Legislative elections in January that Israel would continue to target Hamas officials if they were found to be involved in terrorist activities.