Hamas security chief held in Cairo as counter-terror sweep expands
debkafile reports exclusively that Egyptian security detained Hamas' head of security Mohammad Dababesh at Cairo international airport Friday, Sept. 17, the first high-ranking Palestinian held for questioning by Egyptian security. It is not clear whether Dababesh was on his way back to or from the Gaza Strip. Our sources report that he is no doubt being grilled on the Grad missile attack launched against Eilat and Aqaba from Sinai on Aug. 3, in which two Egyptian border posts were destroyed.
He is senior enough in Hamas to have been in on that incident and knowledgable about the West Bank cells responsible for murdering four Israelis near Hebron on Aug. 30 and injuring a couple at the Rimonim junction two days later. The Egyptian authorities may therefore have acted to nab Dababesh on a tip-off from Israel.
debkafile reported earlier Friday, that a joint Israeli military-Shin Bet unit raided the Nur a-Shams camp in the West Bank town of Tulkarm and killed Iyad Assad Ahmad Abu Shalbaya, identified as deputy chief of the West Bank Hamas network responsible for those murders.
This was Israel's first major operation against known Palestinian terrorist chiefs in some years. It was carried out after Palestinian security forces failed to catch up with the perpetrators.
Shalbaya was caught in the dragnet the IDF and undercover units have cast across the northern and southern West Bank areas since early this week to thwart the wave of terror Hamas threatened for the purpose of derailing talks with the Palestinians and hitting Israel over the Jewish Yom Kippur festival which begins Friday night.
The Palestinians claim Shalbaya was killed in his bed. The Israeli army spokesman reports he was shot as he ran toward them in a threatening manner and refused to stop.
His chief, Banshath al-Karmi, 34, of Hebron, is actively sought along with the Hamas cells preparing to strike in the next 24 hours, according to the latest intelligence input. Jerusalem appears to be a particular target. From Thursday night, Sept. 16, measures have been in place to keep bomb cars out of the capital, including a ban on the movement of vehicles from the Arab sector of East Jerusalem to the Israeli city as of Friday.
debkafile's military sources add that time will tell if Israel's counter-terror operations have been effective in stalling Hamas' plans or, just the opposite, galvanized Hamas into more extreme action, either on the part of their hidden West Bank cells in which the terrorist group invested great efforts, or in the form of another missile barrage from the Gaza Strip to follow the assaults of this week.
Shin Bet Director Yuval Diskin warned the Israeli cabinet session Sunday, Sept. 12 that the Hamas military arm Izz-e-din al-Qassam had given all its teams strict orders to go all-out in order to bring about the collapse of the Israel-Palestinian talks begun at Sharm el-Sheikh on Sept. 13.
Our sources disclose that Hamas' West Bank commander, Al-Karmi, was arrested by the IDF in 1999, a year before the Palestinians launched their suicide killers' war on Israel. He was held for three years. Shortly after his release in 2002, he was picked up again and held in administrative detention for three months.
In 2004, he was shot and seriously injured during an IDF operation in Hebron and restricted to a wheel chair for a long period. Nonetheless, Al-Karmi has always been the live wire of Hamas' organs of terror on the West bank. Last year, he was appointed commander of the new clandestine network Hamas set up in the territory.