NICOSIA ø Hamas and Hizbullah have signed a cooperation accord that
paves the way for increased Shi'ite funding to the Palestinian insurgency
The accord was signed on Monday in Beirut by Hizbullah secretary-general
Hassan Nasrallah and Hamas politbureau chief Khaled Masha'al. Arab
diplomatic sources said the agreement included a Hizbullah pledge to
increase financial and operational assistance to Hamas.
"We share the same destiny and this means that our fight is one,"
Israeli military sources said Hizbullah has been trying to introduce
anti-aircraft missiles into the Gaza Strip, Middle East Newsline reported. They said Israeli forces foiled
an attempt in early March to smuggle several SA-7 man-portable
surface-to-air missiles from Egypt to the Gaza Strip. Hizbullah has sought
SA-7s to down Israeli attack helicopters that have been striking Hamas and
other Palestinian insurgents.
Over the last few months, Hizbullah has been making increasing inroads
in Hamas. The sources said Hizbullah has provided hundreds of thousands of
dollars to Hamas over the last year and intends to increase funding in 2004.
They said the Hizbullah funding has been ordered and coordinated by Iran,
which sponsors the Beirut-based insurgency group.
Hamas has also sent operatives for training in Hizbullah camps in
Lebanon and Syria. The two groups have also planned operations against
Israel, including the suicide strike on the Israeli port of Ashdod earlier
this month in which 10 Israelis were killed.
The sources said they expected Hamas and Hizbullah to increase their
cooperation in wake of the Israeli assassination of Hamas leader Ahmed
Yassin. They said Masha'al and Abdul Aziz Rantisi, Yassin's chief aide, have
supported ties with Hizbullah, a relationship that was frowned upon by