March 1, 2001
The Palestinian Authority has recruited into the ranks of its various
security organizations a number of Hamas activists who were released from
Palestinian prisons in recent months. According to Israeli security
sources, these men have already taken active roles in attacks against
Israeli soldiers and civilians.
Last October, days after the outbreak of the Al Aqsa Intifada, the
Palestinian Authority released dozens of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad
activists that it was holding in its prisons. Many of the released inmates
had been involved in shooting attacks against Israeli targets and in the
planting of bombs. Some quickly returned to the ranks of their
organizations and resumed attacks against Israeli targets.
It has recently become apparent that some of these former inmates are
carrying out their activities while in the uniform of the Palestinian
Authority’s security organizations.
The Palestinian Authority had recruited former inmates to its police
forces before the Intifada. However, in most cases they belonged to Fatah
and had carried out attacks against Israeli targets prior to the signing
of the Oslo accords in 1993.
According to a senior official in Israel’s security services, the
phenomenon of participation in more than one terrorist group is growing.
For instance, Israel has intelligence information that members of Fatah,
Hamas, and Islamic Jihad are participating alongside members of the
Palestinian security forces in groups carrying out attacks.
The senior official says that these units receive the full support of the
Palestinian Authority and receive logistical support, training and
equipment to carry out their operations.
“[Palestinian Chairman Yasser] Arafat is using violence as a strategic
weapon. He gives a green light to terrorism by releasing prisoners and
[by] incitement, both of which create an atmosphere of support for
terrorism within the areas of the Palestinian Authority,” said the Israeli
Nearly all Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives have been released from
Palestinian Authority prisons. Those still held, including Mahmud
Abu-Hanud, the leading Hamas guerrilla from Nablus who escaped an IDF
attack against his stronghold last year, are being kept in “protective
In a sense the PA are providing protection for Abu-Hanud, and
others like him, against possible Israeli attack.