Hamas has managed to recruit members of the Palestinian Authority’s security forces into the terrorist group over the past year, including some in sensitive units that work alongside Israel to thwart Hamas terror activity in the West Bank, according to a newspaper report on Tuesday.
The Palestinian Authority’s intelligence agents caught wind of the breach, launching a covert crackdown on the Hamas spies several months ago that saw several security officers jailed after confessing to working for the terror group, according to Yedioth Ahronoth, which cited Palestinian sources.
The report said Palestinian security officers were reeled in to work for Hamas either through bribes and financial incentives, or through the jailing of their relatives in Gaza.
Leaders of Hamas in Gaza and abroad oversaw the recruitment of the PA security officers, the report said.
The officers were asked to convey sensitive intelligence to the Gaza leaders on PA security operations, including against Hamas cells in the West Bank. Some were told to plant false information to mislead the PA forces.
Hamas managed to infiltrate various units, including the Preventative Security Service that works with Israel to foil terror attacks (and is the equivalent to the Shin Bet security service in Israel), intelligence, and the Palestinian police, among others, the report said.
The PA has largely thwarted the infiltration after jailing suspects who admitted they were serving Hamas, the report said, and PA President Mahmoud Abbas was updated throughout on the secret investigation.
But concerns linger that other Palestinian security officers, who recently have received only 50 percent of their monthly salaries amid a budget crunch, could easily be enticed to work for Hamas for the money.
In response, PA security forces spokesman Adnan Damiri appeared to pour cold water on the report, telling the Wafa news site that: “There are two persons from the security services who were arrested two years ago on suspicion of leaking information to Hamas,” Damiri said. “Statements like the ones the Hebrew press is launching against the security services raise some doubts for us about who is behind them.”
Hamas and the Fatah-dominated PA have been at loggerheads for years and attempts at reconciliation between the warring Palestinian factions have repeatedly failed.