Israel braces for Hamas revenge

Monday, March 22, 2004

TEL AVIV Hamas, bolstered by fresh funding and cooperation with a range of insurgency groups, wields a range of options for revenge attacks against Israel in wake of its assassination of the organizations' founder, Ahmed Yassin.

Israeli security and intelligence sources said Hamas can attack Israeli civilian targets in the Jewish state as well as throughout the world. The sources said Hamas would seek to work with a much larger organization, such as Hizbullah, to stage a massive attack against an Israeli target in a Western or Middle East capital.

Officials have already warned Israelis not to travel to several Middle East cities, including Cairo and Istanbu, Middle East Newsline reportedl. They said Hamas and Sunni insurgents would probably plan attacks against Israeli interests in neighboring Jordan.

Hamas and Hizbullah have bolstered their cooperation over the last year, the Israeli intelligence sources said. They said Hizbullah has been training Hamas operatives and providing expertise and blueprints for the production of missiles and other weapons.

The sources said Hamas would seek to pursue each of these options:

  • Massive bombing inside Israel against a major facility, including an office tower, shopping mall or energy installation;
  • Assassination of an Israeli political leader;
  • Bombing or capture of major Israeli installation abroad, such as an embassy;
  • Abduction of Israeli nationals abroad and demanding the release of Hamas and other detainees held by Israel;
  • Raid or capture of an Israeli community in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Hamas has a range of weapons that it has been improving over the last year. They include the Kassam-class short-range missile, which can reach up to 17 kilometers. Hamas has also enhanced what the sources termed an anti-tank missile, the Al Batar.

On Sunday, Israeli troops killed a senior Hamas operative responsible for the manufacture of the Kassam and mortars in the Gaza Strip. The operative was identified as Bassem Salim Suleiman Kadah, killed during an operation in Khan Yunis in the central Gaza Strip.

The sources said Hizbullah has been planning a campaign of abduction of Israeli and Americans in an effort to win the release of Palestinian and Hizbullah detainees in Europe and the Middle East. They said Hizbullah has obtained forged passports and operatives to pose as Westerners and befriend Israelis and Americans abroad.

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