gaza woman schalit.
(photo credit: )
Hamas claimed on Wednesday that its security forces have uncovered a plot by Israel to gather information about the location of IDF soldier St.-Sgt. Gilad Schalit, who is being held in the Gaza Strip.
A senior Hamas official claimed that Israel had recruited a number of officers who used to serve in the Fatah-dominated security forces before the Islamist movement seized control of the entire Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007.
Abu Abdullah, who serves with Hamas's Internal Security Service, said that the officers had been entrusted with the mission of locating the place where Schalit was being held by his captors.
"The Shabak is very interested in obtaining any information about the whereabouts of Schalit through various methods," Abu Abdullah said, referring to Israel's Internal Security Service [Shin Bet]. "One of these methods was the last war [Operation Cast Lead], whose goal was to break Hamas and obtain information about the location of Schalit to rescue him."
The Hamas security official revealed that his men arrested "a number of collaborators" who had rented an apartment and vehicles in the eastern area of the Gaza Strip.
He claimed that the "collaborators" were planning to kidnap a senior member of Hamas's armed wing, Izaddin al-Kassam, and hand him over to Israel for interrogation about the location of Schalit.
Abu Abdullah did not name the top operative who was supposed to be abducted. However, he told a Hamas-affiliated Web site that his men managed to foil the alleged scheme at the last minute.
He said that the alleged Israeli operation was similar to an earlier incident where undercover IDF soldiers are said to have detained another senior Hamas operative, Muhawesh al-Qadi, from the town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip more than a year ago.
Abu Abdullah reiterated Hamas charges that former security officers belonging to Fatah were working with the IDF and other Israeli security branches to undermine the movement and free Schalit. He also claimed that these "collaborators" had provided the Israelis with information about Hamas men who fired rockets into Israel.
The news about an alleged attempt to rescue Schalit came as Hamas leaders announced that a German mediator would return to the region next week for additional talks on the possibility of reaching a prisoner exchange agreement with Israel.
Meanwhile, a Hamas Gaza-based delegation arrived Thursday to Cairo from Damascus - where it has been holding meetings with the group's leadership there - and was due to inform the Egyptians of the organization's decision on Israel's latest counteroffer in the Schalit swap negotiations.
Hamas spokesmen issued contradictory statements about the outcome of the movement's discussions in Syria over the past few days. Some rushed to announce that Hamas has rejected the latest Israeli offer to deport about 130 prisoners slated for release, while others stressed that no final decision has been made yet.
Muhammad Nasser, a senior Hamas political figure, said that consultations in the movement would continue about the prospects of striking a deal, but did not give additional details.
Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip, said that it was premature to talk about a final Hamas decision on this matter.
"Hamas is continuing to study the Israeli response," he said. "The discussions and deliberations have not ended yet."