Hamas seeking to orchestrate suicide bombings, PA says

Hamas seeking to orchestrate suicide bombings, PA says

Interrogations of group’s operatives reveal new orders for better organized, deadlier terror attacks against Israelis

Avi Issacharoff

Avi Issacharoff, The Times of Israel's Middle East analyst, fills the same role for Walla, the leading portal in Israel. He is also a guest commentator on many different radio shows and current affairs programs on television. Until 2012, he was a reporter and commentator on Arab affairs for the Haaretz newspaper. He also lectures on modern Palestinian history at Tel Aviv University, and is currently writing a script for an action-drama series for the Israeli satellite Television "YES." Born in Jerusalem, he graduated cum laude from Ben Gurion University with a B.A. in Middle Eastern studies and then earned his M.A. from Tel Aviv University on the same subject, also cum laude. A fluent Arabic speaker, Avi was the Middle East Affairs correspondent for Israeli Public Radio covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in Iraq and the Arab countries between the years 2003-2006. Avi directed and edited short documentary films on Israeli television programs dealing with the Middle East. In 2002 he won the "best reporter" award for the "Israel Radio” for his coverage of the second intifada. In 2004, together with Amos Harel, he wrote "The Seventh War - How we won and why we lost the war with the Palestinians." A year later the book won an award from the Institute for Strategic Studies for containing the best research on security affairs in Israel. In 2008, Issacharoff and Harel published their second book, entitled "34 Days - The Story of the Second Lebanon War," which won the same prize.

Gunmen from the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, stand guard during a parade marking the ruling Islamist terror movement's 28th birthday on December 11, 2015, in Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip. (Said Khatib/AFP)
Gunmen from the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, stand guard during a parade marking the ruling Islamist terror movement's 28th birthday on December 11, 2015, in Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip. (Said Khatib/AFP)

Hamas is attempting to launch major terror attacks against Israel, including suicide bombings, from the West Bank, a senior Palestinian Authority source told The Times of Israel.

Information gleaned from interrogations of Hamas operatives arrested recently by PA security services shows that the terror group’s leaders in Gaza and abroad have sent orders to local commanders to escalate their activities — from encouraging protests and stabbing attacks to more dramatic and deadly assaults on Israeli civilians, the source said.

Some two dozen Israelis and others have been killed in a wave of Palestinian stabbings, car-rammings and shootings since the start of October. More than 100 Palestinians have been killed, a majority of them attackers who died during their terrorist attacks.

Over 1,000 Israelis were killed in terror attacks, including dozens of suicide bomb attacks, during the Second Intifada, from 2000 until roughly 2004, many of them carried out by Hamas operatives.

The PA sources said Hamas’s new efforts to escalate the violence would further raise tensions, as Israel would be expected to counter the increased violence with further clampdowns on Palestinian areas in the West Bank, in turn leading to a weakening of the Palestinian Authority – a key interest of Hamas.

Israeli officials are also expressing concern about the possibility that suicide bombings will be renewed, shifting the nature of the current terror wave from a largely uncoordinated series of low-level attacks to a much broader campaign.

Dozens of Hamas operatives and commanders have been arrested by both PA and Israeli forces in recent weeks in the West Bank.

Hamas has repeatedly called for lone-wolf attacks in recent months. Last week, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal praised the attacks on Israelis, saying Palestinians have come to the conclusion that the peace process is futile, and therefore the path of “jihad, sacrifice, and blood” is the only way forward.

Hamas's Khaled Mashaal speaks in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, December 10, 2015. (MEMRI screenshot)
Hamas’s Khaled Mashaal speaks in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, December 10, 2015. (MEMRI screenshot)

“The Palestinians have reached the realization that negotiations with the (Israelis) are useless,” Mashaal said during a visit to the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lampur on December 10. “The so-called peace process is futile. There is no peace. Only the path of jihad, sacrifice, and blood (will bear fruit).”

Mashaal, who lives in exile in Qatar, was in Malaysia last week at the head of a delegation of senior Hamas officials for a four-day visit to meet with government officials and politicians.

“Our rights will not be restored through the UN Security Council but by means of recruitment,” he said in a speech, according to a clip posted and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute monitoring group. “Two thousand verbal ‘rockets’ do not compare to a single rocket made of iron. The children and youth of the West Bank have absorbed the message.

“Weapons like Kalashnikovs or missiles are not at hand, but there are knives and cars with which to run over the enemies,” he added. “By God, after the knives used by the people of the West Bank and Jerusalem, can anyone possibly have an excuse to abandon the path of jihad? Nobody can have such an excuse.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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