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Tuesday, October 11, 2011     GET REAL

Cable alerted U.S. to Hamas grip on Gaza Strip
in 2004, recommended no actions

LONDON — The United States received credible reports that Hamas was in control of the Gaza Strip as early as 2004.


U.S. government documents told of briefings by leading officials of the Palestinian Authority that asserted that Hamas took over large areas of the Gaza Strip. The reports arrived more than three years before Hamas forces expelled the PA and took formal control over the strip.

"PA ministers have told us in January [2004] and December [2003] that Hamas effectively controls several strongholds in the Gaza Strip," a State Department cable said.

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The cable, sent from the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, undermined assertions by Washington that the PA was in full control of the Gaza Strip. As late as May 2007, a month before the Hamas takeover, then-U.S. security coordinator, Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton, told Congress that PA security forces could defeat any Hamas challenge in the Gaza Strip.

In a January 2004 cable, however, consulate-general David Pearce warned the White House that Hamas was establishing itself as an alternative to the PA and the Palestine Liberation Organization. Pearce warned that Hamas was winning elections throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip and conducting Palestinian foreign policy.

PA Municipal Authority Minister Jamal Shubaki told U.S. diplomats that Hamas has replaced the PA in the Gaza Strip. PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei said he was advised not to visit the southern Gaza town of Rafah and that Hamas operatives have held senior PA officials.

"I just visited Gaza," Shubaki said. "Hamas is in control there. There is no [Palestinian] Authority in Gaza."

The cable does not recommend steps to counter Hamas domination in either the Gaza Strip or West Bank. Dayton was appointed security coordinator, responsible for the development of PA security forces, in 2005.

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