Behind the Headlines: Israeli measures against Hamas in the West Bank
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
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 Behind the Headlines: Israeli measures against Hamas in the West Bank

7/10/2008

DM Ehud Barak recently signed an order banning 36 "charity" funds which are part of Hamas's fundraising network. By providing ostensibly "charitable" services, the Hamas terror organization promotes its armed agenda under a civilian umbrella, seeking to usurp control of the West Bank from the legitimate Palestinian Authority, as it has already done in the Gaza Strip.

The institutions indoctrinate youth with an ideology of terrorism and violence, and provide financial support for the families of killed and imprisoned terrorists - thus providing an incentive for terrorist enlistment.
 

Background

Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, is an illegal Palestinian Islamist armed organization whose central goal is the destruction of the State of Israel. Hamas employs terrorism as its main method of operation and disseminates its ideology via mass media, political cells and social activities that attract the Palestinian population.

Hamas is exporting their operational experience from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank and exploiting its civil infrastructure in order to recruit support for its terrorist activities. The organization's ideology is based on a Muslim Brotherhood worldview, which integrates fanatical Muslim theology with an extremist nationalist Palestinian agenda. Consequently, the organization is vehemently opposed to the pragmatic Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas and to other moderate Arab regimes who do not accept its ideology.

Since the year 2000, 373 Israelis have been killed in Hamas-initiated terror attacks. Of those, 325 were civilians killed in suicide attacks and other terror incidents, and the remaining 48 victims were members of the Israeli security forces.

Hamas uses two central methods to achieve its goals:

a. Holy War (Jihad): The violent campaign against Israel and any other entity not identified with radical Islam that control areas of “Greater Palestine” (from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River). Prevalent methods employed are operations against civilian targets, suicide attacks and the use of women and children as terror operatives.
 
b. Social Activities (Daawa): Referred to by Hamas as “the training of the hearts", these “charitable” activities constitute the organization's most important means to implement its ideological agenda and to promote support for its goals within the population. In a continuous, long-term program, Hamas uses its social welfare apparatus to create and increase the population's political allegiance, veiled in religious rhetoric. In the course of time, the recipient of this assistance will become an activist in the movement, whether as a terrorist operative, in an organizational capacity or as a political supporter.


Facing Hamas Terrorism

Hamas terrorist operatives continuously target Israelis as part of their struggle against the existence of the State of Israel. On 4 February 2008, a suicide bomber blew himself up in a shopping center in Dimona, killing one Israeli civilian and injuring 38 others. Last Yom Kippur (22 Sep 2007), Israeli security forces thwarted an attack on civilian targets when they found explosive belts hidden ready for use in Tel Aviv. During the Passover holiday last year (April 2007), they discovered a car bomb in central Israel. Hamas initiated all three of these attacks, all targeting population centers.

Due to the danger that Hamas poses to Israel’s citizens, and to the threat they pose to the peace process between Israel and the pragmatic Palestinian leadership, Israel set the campaign against Hamas as its primary objective. For this reason, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) wage a stubborn campaign against the Hamas terror organization, with emphasis on the organization's terror operatives.

Hamas operatives use various methods to implement their ideology of jihad and anti-Israel terrorism, including disguising themselves as civilians, even women, in order to avoid detection and carry out their attacks. In September 2007, while conducting operations against the terrorist infrastructure in the Ein Beit Ilma refugee camp in Nablus, Israel security forces discovered a fugitive hiding beneath a bed upon which a pregnant woman lay,  objecting to the search. The fugitive, Ahmed Yussuf Aya Abd-el Iz, one of the heads of the Hamas infrastructure in the camp, was arrested. In another incident, an Israeli force arrested Ahmed Yussuf Abd El Abu Shehada, another Hamas operative, who disguised himself in women's clothing in an attempt to dupe IDF forces searching for him. Three other Hamas operatives, Haled Nuri, Yussuf Nadi and Mustafa Nuri, were arrested in the same operation. They admitted during questioning to the planning of attacks against Israeli targets as well as to Mustafa Nuri's desire to commit a suicide attack.

Many Hamas activists were arrested during 2007-2008. The most senior among them:

a. On 11 January 2007, security forces detained Khaled Mohammed Amin El Haj' in the Jenin refugee camp. In the year preceding his arrest, El Haj' headed the Hamas organization in the Jenin region, and was considered the most senior operative in the area, responsible for all the organization's regional operations and for coordination with Hamas headquarters in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and abroad. In addition, El Haj' played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Hamas terrorist infrastructure in the Jenin region.

Together with El Haj’, the IDF arrested Ghassan Abd El Wahab Tahir Zouaibi. Ghassan Zouaibi was a senior member of the Hamas leadership in the Jenin region and played a central role in the establishment of its terrorist cadre.

b. On 23 June 2007, security forces apprehended Salah Mahmud Suliman el Aruri in the village of Arura, north of Ramallah. A senior operative of the Hamas terror infrastructure and a wanted fugitive, El Aruri is considered the founder of the West Bank’s Iz A-Din El Kassam Brigades - the military wing of the Hamas terror organization. He is the most senior Hamas operative in the West Bank and is one of the heads of the Hamas overall leadership.

c. On 26 March 2008, security forces arrested Omar Jaber, head of Hamas infrastructure in the Tul Karem region. He had been wanted since 2002 for his coordination of the suicide bombing of the Park Hotel on Passover eve, 27 March 2002, including arranging for the transport for the suicide. Thirty Israelis were killed and 140 injured in the attack.

From 2002, Omar Jaber was directly responsible for recruiting armed cadre into the Hamas terror organization and for recruiting youngsters to serve as terrorist operatives in isolated armed cells. In the year prior to his arrest, he was directly involved in the training of these recruits. Jaber used coded messages to receive funding for his activities, to finance the operatives working with him and to purchase and hide weapons and ammunition.

Following the armed confrontation between the PA and Hamas in the Gaza Strip in January 2007, Jaber began to form an extensive terrorist infrastructure in the Tul Karem area. In addition, he was responsible for the financing of terror cells, for the purchase of weapons and for recruiting operatives. He also formed isolated cells whose role was to form an operational force based on the Hamas model operating in the Gaza Strip. The arrest of the cell members in effect prevented them from carrying out their intended terrorist attacks.


"I swear I shall take revenge, for the sake of God and the religion"

The Hamas Daawa Network

The Hamas Daawa (Charitable) institutions comprise a comprehensive social infrastructure, incorporating dozens of bodies and institutions and scores of associations and Islamic charitable committees spread throughout West Bank cities and many of the villages as well.

These associations and committees provide financial and material aid to the population in general and to Hamas supporters in particular, and carry out activities in a wide range of fields - education, health, welfare, religion, information, etc. This array constitutes Hamas' main power base and differentiates it from other Islamic organizations operating in the area.

This Hamas activity is carried out under the guise of charity, but the actual aim of the Daawa infrastructure is the strengthening of the Hamas terror organization and its grip on the population. It is representative of the organization's strategy to accumulate strength in the West Bank so as to gain control and increase its influence locally and regionally - much in the same manner as Hamas gained control of the Gaza Strip.

In light of the above, Israel has concluded that measures to curtail this infrastructure and its numerous components - employees, associations, connections with internal and external financiers, etc. - are essential for the disruption of Hamas operations, for curbing its increasing influence and reducing its power base in the West Bank.

Consequently, Israeli security forces have embarked upon unprecedented operations against institutions belonging to the Hamas Daawa infrastructure in the West Bank. Funds disguised as “charity” but actually designated for terror activities are funneled through these institutions, which are a valuable instrument for financing terror-related activities. As part of the campaign against Hamas, it was decided to operate against its organizational infrastructure, which includes offices, warehouses, financial assets and various institutions, in order to impair the organization's ability to function effectively, thus undermining its effort to co-opt the legitimate Palestinian Authority.

The institutions of the Hamas Daawa infrastructure have been outlawed due to their financial support of the families of suicide bombers and imprisoned terror operatives. Hamas support for the families of killed and jailed terrorists aims to provide incentives for terrorist recruits and to increase popular support for the terror organizations.

Since the beginning of 2008, Israeli security forces have been focusing on several regions in Judea and Samaria in their efforts against the Hamas Daawa institutions.

On 6 March, the IDF launched an operation against economic assets of the Islamic Charity Association in Hebron, confiscated assets and closed down institutions and offices that provided a source of income for the organization's terror-related activities. The Islamic Charity Association is the largest and most established institution in the Hamas' Daawa network in the West Bank. This institution funds and directs the activities of many sub-associations spread throughout southern Judea and Samaria. The Association distributes Hamas propaganda materials, initiates Hamas-related projects and creates a significant power base for the movement among the local population. Security forces carried out similar operations against institutions and economic assets operating under the auspices of Hamas in the towns of Kalkilya, Jenin and Ramallah.

Due to the Israeli operations, Hamas is losing a vital source of income without which it will find it difficult to pay for arms and ammunition, carry out attacks or assemble the explosives necessary for terror attacks on Tel Aviv, Netanya or Dimona - the last town attacked by a Hamas suicide bomber only a few months ago.

The damage to the Hamas Daawa facilities disrupts the flow of money needed by the organization, thereby disrupting terror activities as well.

Schools and orphanages belonging to the Hamas organization educate generations of schoolchildren in the spirit of jihad and of Hamas as the supreme value. The photos appended to this document, all confiscated from Hamas Daawa institutions, clearly demonstrate the Hamas indoctrination of youth to terrorism and jihad.


The Legal Front

The IDF Military Advocate General is carrying out a diverse range of legal activities in the campaign against Hamas, which have met with much success. Furthermore, there is widespread understanding in the military courts, the High Court and even in international courts that decisive action must be taken against the Hamas's "civilian" infrastructure, and that Daawa activities which engender terrorism must be viewed with severity.

Several legal precedents have been established in the course of this campaign:

a. The military court in Judea sentenced Hosni Mohamed Abd El Qadar Abu Awaad to three years in prison on 17 December 2007. Abu Awaad headed the Ramallah Daawa Committee, which was a subsidiary of Hamas's Daawa network and was therefore outlawed. The sentence set a precedent, as this was the first time a prison term was imposed for an operative working in the Hamas Daawa infrastructure.

b. An 18 March 2008 ruling of the Israel Supreme Court holds significant legal importance in the fight against terror-related funds. According to the ruling, the military commander is authorized to order the confiscation of funds from a person equal in value to funds transferred to him by an outlawed organization, without requiring proof of the source of the confiscated funds in question. This ruling can provide a basis for action against terror-related funds, particularly against terror operatives in the West Bank where substantial evidence regarding transfer of funds to them from terrorist organizations has been gathered.

c. On 27 February 2008, a military court accepted an appeal that authorizes the continued imprisonment of a Palestinian who established a Daawa organization on behalf of Hamas. According to the judge, the sole purpose of the organization was the support of Hamas-related activities. Although the organization also collected money for establishing a school and for child education, all these activities were carried out in an atmosphere totally oriented to promoting Hamas ideology.


Conclusions

By supporting the population and providing ostensibly “charitable” services, the Hamas terror organization promotes its armed agenda under a civilian umbrella. However, the real purpose of these activities is to increase Hamas's ideological power base and its control over the population.

The organization uses its Daawa infrastructure as a tool to usurp control of the West Bank from the legitimate Palestinian Authority, as it has already done in the Gaza Strip. Should this effort be successful, the consequences would be tragic for the peace negotiations now taking place between Israel and the pragmatic Palestinian Authority.

Hamas's Daawa activities promote popular support and recruitment for increased terrorist operations against Israel. The institutions indoctrinate youth with an ideology of terrorism and violence, and provide financial support for the families of killed and imprisoned terrorists - thus providing an incentive for terrorist enlistment.

In addition, the infrastructure established by the Hamas Daawa institutions is used to transfer terror-related funds under the guise of charity, thus creating a versatile system for channeling funds to terror operations.

Israeli security forces will continue to operate against the Hamas terror organization, its institutions and assets, in order to provide security and safety to the citizens of Israel and to prevent Hamas from taking control of the West Bank

Israel will continue to utilize all the legal options at its disposal against the terror organizations and their operatives in order to provide protection and safety to the citizens of Israel.



Visual material confiscated from Hamas Daawa institutions




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