In an address to the Interdisciplinary Center's Institute for
Counter-Terrorism, Fighel, a consultant for the government and military,
said Hamas was garnering increasing support for an insurgency campaign
against Israel. He said Hamas also appeared to have been given greater
leeway for recruitment and other activities in the West Bank, Middle East Newsline reported.
"It is gaining influence in the West Bank and acting more freely,"
Fighel, a reserve intelligence commander, said.
Officials echoed Fighel's assessment. They said Israeli authorities have
captured 13 Hamas cells in August, financed from such countries as
Jordan, Syria and Turkey.
Fighel pointed to the West Bank city of Hebron, a stronghold of Hamas.
He said Hamas was gaining support for mass-casualty attacks on Israel's
military and civilians.
"We're seeing more and more Hamas flags in Hebron," Fighel said. "The
public atmosphere to Hamas is much more lenient. This allows the creation of
operational terror cells."
Analysts said Hamas was exploiting the reconciliation agreement with the
ruling Fatah movement to expand in the West Bank. They said Hamas, neither
in the West Bank or Gaza Strip, was deterred by Israel.