'Hamas in Damascus ordered a mega attack'

Shin Bet deputy director also says 40 tons of TNT smuggled into Gaza since Hamas takeover.

Hamas masked gd224.8 (photo credit: AP [file])
Hamas masked gd224.8
(photo credit: AP [file])
Yahiya Moussa, a member of the Hamas parliament in Gaza, said the organization did not change its policy regarding suicide attacks, Israel Radio reported Sunday evening. He said reports aired in Israeli media earlier Sunday were meant to "set the ground for renewed Israeli violence against the Palestinians." Moussa added, however, that Hamas was not in complete control over its activists and that "pressure against activists in the [West] Bank could lead bring about an explosion." A Palestinian source in Ramallah contradicted Moussa, and confirmed that the leadership in Damascus had indeed instructed West Bank Hamas members to carry out a large-scale attack. Earlier Sunday, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) deputy director said at the cabinet meeting that Hamas leaders in Damascus have told the group's loyalists in the West Bank to carry out a large-scale terrorist attack inside Israel. Due to Hamas's current frustrations, he said, there was an increased chance it would become more actively involved in carrying out attacks here and abroad. Hamas, the official told the ministers, was irritated it had not been able to break out of its international isolation and had been unable to create a mechanism that would bring about dialogue with Fatah. The organization, he said, was also finding it increasingly difficult to effectively govern the Gaza Strip. In addition, he said, there were increasing signs of economic separation between Gaza and the West Bank, with the economic situation in Gaza getting worse, while recently there had been some improvement in the West Bank's private economic sector. "There is no real threat to Hamas in Gaza," the Shin Bet official added. "Its situation is stable." He said Hamas was continuing to smuggle large quantities of arms and explosives from Egypt. In the two months since it took control of Gaza, he said, some 40 tons of explosives had been smuggled in, representing half of the amount of explosives smuggled since Israel left Gaza in 2005. The Shin Bet official said there had been a recent decrease in Egyptian efforts to stop the smuggling. He said there had been an increase in attacks, with 56 cases of Palestinian small-arms fire or Kassam attacks over the past week, compared to 43 the previous week.