Israeli intel: Hamas using Qatar as base to plot terror strikes

Special to

TEL AVIV — Israel’s intelligence community has determined that Qatar
was serving as an operational base for Hamas.

Officials said the intelligence community has tracked an increasing
number of Hamas operations to Qatar. They said the Hamas presence in the
Gulf Cooperation Council emirate, which included much of the political
bureau, has led to initiatives to plot attacks against Israel in the West

Palestinian youth walks near a poster of Gaza's Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, left, and Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani in Gaza City, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012. The poster announces the coming visit of the Emir of Qatar, it reads, "Thank You Qatar."  /AP/Hatem Moussa
A Palestinian youth walks near a poster in Gaza City that  announces a 2012 visit of the Emir of Qatar. The poster reads, “Thank You Qatar.” /AP/Hatem Moussa

“Qatar has allowed Hamas considerable leeway in planning terrorist plots against Israel,” an official said.

On June 3, the Israel Security Agency reported Qatar’s involvement in a Hamas plot to attack Israelis and abduct soldiers. ISA said the plot was directed by Hamas operative Ibrahim Hajaz, one of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners released in 2011 in exchange for Sgt. Gilad Shalit. Hajaz, sentenced to 10 life terms, was sent to Qatar.

“He currently lives in Qatar,” ISA said.

[On June 19, Palestinian gunners from the Gaza Strip fired at least three rockets into Israel. The rockets fell into open areas near the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon and nobody was reported injured.]

Officials said Hajaz recruited a Palestinian from Ramallah named Bahar
Saad. They said Hajaz met Saad in Jordan where he was recruited and told to
organize an insurgency network that would be trained in Sudan.

“During their meeting, Saad was recruited to Hamas, and instructed to
advance shooting and kidnapping attacks against settlers and soldiers upon
his return [to the West Bank],” ISA said. “Saad was also also instructed to
recruit additional members, and agreed to travel to Sudan to undergo
military training.”

Officials said they did not know how Hajaz was allowed entry by Jordan.
They said Jordan has usually stopped known Hamas operatives, including
senior commanders.

ISA said Hajaz had told Saad that he would receive four weapons for
attacks in the West Bank. The agency said Hajaz had planned to use a courier
to deliver the weapons.

“The results of the investigation into Baker Saad reflect a significant
trend among Hamas terror operatives released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner
exchange who have returned to terror activity,” ISA said. “Many of these
terrorists have intended to carry out kidnapping attacks in order to bargain
for the release of detained terrorists.”

Officials said Qatar has been approached to stop Hamas activities. But
they said Doha, despite repeated pledges, has not restricted Hamas.

“Hamas is seen by Qatar as a very important ally,” the official said.

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