New Hamas West Bank commanders set to revive anti-Israel terror

Since early 2007, Hamas has refrained from orchestrating terrorist activity against Israel from the West Bank, focusing mainly on its missile barrage against southwestern Israel from the Gaza Strip. Now, debkafile‘s military sources report, the Palestinian extremists have changed course. Hamas’ military chief Muhammad Jabary has established a new regional West Bank command corps for a fresh terror campaign against Israel, including suicide attacks, from the territory controlled by the rival Fatah and Palestinian Authority.
Jabary used the discussions on a Palestinian prisoner swap for the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, which took place in Cairo and Damascus during October and November, for getting together with Hamas West Bank operatives and refreshing the regional command. He also obtained top-level sanction for the new terror offensive from Hamas’ Damascus-based political bureau chiefs and its Shura council.
This decision has a dual motive, according to debkafile‘s intelligence sources:
One: To compel Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu to bow to every last Hamas’ condition for the release of Sgt. Shalit, who was kidnapped by Hamas more than three years ago and for whom Israel has agreed to free about 1,000 jailed Palestinians.
Some issues are still outstanding and delaying a deal. In some Israeli quarters, it is feared that the release of hundreds convicted hard-core terrorists would augur a fresh upsurge of violence. Hamas means to prove that the escalation will happen anyway without regard to the prisoner swap; it has meanwhile toughened its bargaining tactics. Hamas’ politburo chief Khaled Meshaal declared in Tehran Tuesday, Dec. 15, that to bring the Israeli soldier home, Israel must bow to all of Hamas’ conditions.
Two: To give their arch foe PA chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas a harsh lesson, Hamas means to discredit both his partnership with the Americans, who have created, armed and funded a new Palestinian national security force, and his security ties with Israel, as useless for stopping Hamas mounting terrorist attacks from the West Bank.
debkafile‘s military and intelligence sources were therefore made uncomfortable by Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen Amos Yadlin’s public assertion Tuesday that West Bank-sourced terror was under better control than ever before. Addressing the National Security Research Institute, Yadlin said the year just ending had been very quiet. In deed, he said, “not a single Israeli soldier or civilian had died at the hands of terrorists up until winter 2009 – a manifestation unprecedented in recent decades.”
Israel’s intelligence community felt that such declarations are an invitation to trouble especially since the last three weeks have seen ominous signs of Hamas gearing up for another wave of violence.
On Dec. 2, Egyptian units discovered a large cache of bomb belts rigged for detonation and 15-kilo explosive charges – some fitted with detonators, others with timers. The cache had been secreted out of the Gaza Strip into Egyptian Sinai for smuggling across its long border with the Negev into Israel. The arms were believed destined for suicide bombers standing by on the West Bank for orders to go into Israel.
On the night of Nov. 25, Israeli forces intercepted a lone suicide bomber heading either for Israel’s southern port-resort town of Eilat or a Negev army base with big bomb stuffed into his backpack.
Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant, OC Southern Command and the Gaza front, who is a lot closer to the Hamas scene, was a lot less upbeat than the MI chief when he spoke Tuesday: He warned that the present calm was extremely fragile and the Gaza war front bound to explode – even though it could happen in the space of weeks or months.

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