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Sunday, October 9, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

West Bank Hamas leadership said to be paralyzed

LONDON — The Hamas network in the West Bank is said to be leaderless and without guidance from abroad, a report said.


The International Crisis Group said Hamas's leadership in the West Bank has been hampered by confusion and lack of guidance. In a report, ICG said the West Bank leadership was paralyzed and exploited by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Middle East Newsline reported.

"Hamas sympathizers and Kassam [military wing] members acknowledged that confusion reigns among the movement's West Bank leadership," the report, titled "Squaring The Circle: Palestinian Security Reform Under Occupation," said.

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The report, dated September 2010, played down assertions by the PA that Hamas established a military infrastructure in the West Bank. ICG said Hamas military operatives have been unable to organize without a clear decision from the leadership.

"We have the will to fight, but there has been no decision taken that we should do so," a Kassam member said. "If a decision is taken, we can rebuild."

The ICG report was released before Israel's announcement in September 2011 of the resurgence of Hamas' military network in the West Bank. The network was said to have been organized and directed by Hamas from the Gaza Strip and Turkey.

The unidentified Kassam member was quoted by ICG as saying that Hamas detainees in Israeli and PA prisons have been furious over the absence of major insurgency operations in the West Bank. The member said the West Bank leadership, despite an infusion of funds, has been paralyzed.

"We fought Israel, and we can fight the PA," the Kassam member said. "But it hasn't been properly discussed. The inside leadership is paralyzed, so we are relying on the outside, but no decision has come. Neither leaders nor soldiers are taking decisions."

"Inside the prisons, Hamas fighters are very angry," the Kassam member continued. "They are saying, 'Why didn't we act immediately in the West Bank [in June 2007] as we did in Gaza? Then, we had the potential for broad action. Now we don't."

In 2007, Hamas overthrew the PA in the Gaza Strip and established an Islamic state blockaded by both Egypt and Israel. Since then, Hamas in the West Bank has come under periodic crackdowns by the PA, with more than 1,000 operatives arrested since August 2010.

"We served up our heads on a plate for nothing," the Kassam operative said. "We're sitting in jail while the PA is going it alone and coordinating with Israel without paying any price."

ICG said the PA has been targeting Hamas institutions throughout the West Bank. The report said Bethlehem and Nablus accounted for more than half of the closures while Hebron largely avoided the PA crackdown.

"In the governorate of Nablus alone, approximately 70 additional organizations are now being scrutinized, many of which are expected to be closed," the report said.

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