Islamic Jihad views Hamas win as chance to take Hamas's place.
By YAAKOV KATZ
Violence needs to be met with force. And not just any force, but one that is strong and synchronized, especially considering defense establishment predictions that Israel is on the verge of a new round of Palestinian violence.
While Hamas may have won last month's Palestinian Authority elections, security officials told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday, the radical group remained involved in anti-Israel terror activity and was even behind some of the Kassam rockets fired at Gaza-belt communities over the past week. This week alone the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) noted an increase in terror alerts and recorded 55 as opposed to less than 50 recorded last week. The reason, officials say, has to do with Hamas but mostly with the Islamic Jihad.
While the defense establishment predicted, correctly for now, that Hamas would not abandon its armed struggle, Islamic Jihad has interpreted the Hamas's victory at the polls as an opportunity for them to vanguard the Palestinian armed struggle. This gloomy prediction is what stands behind the army's renewal of targeted killings in Gaza and the clampdown on Palestinian fugitives in the West Bank.
The army, officials said Tuesday, planned to continue striking terrorists behind the firing of Kassam rockets as could be seen by the targeted killings of two Al Aksa operatives on Monday and another two on Tuesday. "We won't stop until they stop," one officer explained adding that until the situation stabilized within the Palestinian Authority force might just be the only viable means of communication.
The defense establishment is also at an all-time high when it comes to the confidence it has in the IDF military machine. Security officials noted Tuesday that with the Shin Bet providing the intelligence and the army or police pushing the trigger, there was no such thing as a Palestinian untouchable. "We have the ability to strike within a matter of minutes," one official said. "The Shin Bet says where and when and the army is ready to move in."
For now however, security officials are waiting to see how things play out within the PA regarding Hamas. The basic working assumption is that Hamas will not voluntarily disarm itself or disband its military wing. But issues such as who the Hamas ministers will be and who will control the PA security branches - Hamas or PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas - have yet to be resolved internally and remain question marks for Israel.
"We don't expect them to suddenly turn peaceful," one official said adding however that Hamas did appear to be made up of people Israel might be able to talk to in the future.
"They say things as they are," he continued. "They don't lie to you and if they hate you they tell it to your face as opposed to other Palestinian leaders who hate you in private and pretend to love you in public."
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