Hamas alleges Palestinian Authority spied on Gaza armed groups
Hamas on Saturday released a string of videos allegedly revealing that members of the Palestinian Authority security forces in Ramallah spied on armed groups in Gaza and provided intelligence on the location of fighters to the Israeli army during last summer's assault on Gaza.
In a series of recorded confessions, interviews and telephone calls, the men involved are heard admitting to spying on Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine as well as carrying out attacks and bombings in the Gaza Strip. They allegedly monitored weapons movements as well as tunnel activity.
According to the tapes, the men received their orders from Palestinian Authority security officials, who had fled to the West Bank.
The videos were all aired during a press conference held at the Interior Ministry.
Iyad Bozum, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said that Hamas has hundreds more documents proving that security forces in Ramallah have been conspiring against the armed groups and called for a formation of a national committee to examine these documents.
“Today’s conference came after all possibilities were exhausted when we met the political factions and presented the documents to them,” he said. “We sent memos to the Arab League and the Palestinian leadership at home and abroad to give a chance for everyone to mend relations.”
Fatah was quick to hit back at Hamas, condemning their “campaign of lies”.
“No one is deceived by Hamas’s lies,” said Fatah spokesman Osama al-Qawasmi. “Everyone knows that Hamas rules over the Gaza Strip with force, and it is the one that is responsible for all of the bombings and burning of cars.”
“The forgery of some papers or recordings does not need a big effort these days,” Qawasmi continued, “especially since Hamas have experts in that field who have forged visas for those who died in the middle of the sea to escape the oppression in Gaza.”
But Bozum alleges that the Gaza authorities have proof that the information was passed on to the PA, who would in turn pass it to the Israelis. Israel and the PA have had a security agreement since the Oslo peace accords in the 1990s. While there have been increasing calls for it to be scrapped, there is no sign as yet that the PA plans to end the deal.
Last week the Palestinian Liberation Organisation recommended ending all security ties between the PA and Israel, but the move has yet to happen with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas previously calling the arrangement "sacred".
The arrangement appears to date back almost a decade, with one video showing the recorded confession of a spy who said he was feeding information to the PA from 2004 and working with Ahmad Abdel Halim Abu Shawqa, who works for the PA’s preventative security forces, and is notorious for recruiting men in Gaza, Bozum said.
The alleged spy was arrested during last summer’s 50-day war with Israel in which more than 2,200 Palestinians - largely civilians - were killed and more than 11,000 injured. The man in the video also recalled how he would call in information about rocket-launching locations which would then be quickly bombed by the Israelis.
According to Bozum he was detained after he raised suspicion by closely monitoring Hamas movements during the war.
“He (Shawqa) called me during the war and told me to give him information regarding where the rockets were launched from and to monitor those involved in the fighting from Hamas. I passed information to him about Abdullah Arafat Shamlakh,” the man is heard saying.
Shamlakh was a member of Hamas’s armed wing, the Qassam Brigades, who was killed this summer supposedly shortly after Shawqa was fed the information by the spy.
In another video, three members of the former security services in Gaza are seen confessing to coordinating with Major General Sami Nasman in Ramallah to carry out a series of attacks and to burn cars belonging to Hamas officials.
“He asked me to cause a commotion,” said one of the men, Ibrahim al-Madhoun. “I asked, in return for what? He answered that my salary will be raised.” Madhoun proceeded to recruit two other men to carry out the car burnings, he said.
Although there is no information regarding whether the presented confessions were obtained by torture or other kinds of duress, Hamas has previously been condemned by human rights organisations for killing suspected informants following hasty legal proceedings
Fatah and Hamas have been at loggerheads since Hamas democratically won the 2006 elections, in a move that was not recognised by the international community. The following year, severe infighting resulted in Hamas wresting control of Gaza from the PA, prompting Israel to impose the ongoing blockade.
The two Palestinian governments signed a unity deal back in April 2014 in which administrative control of the Gaza Strip was handed over to the Palestinian Authority. Reconciliation, however, has been slow to come with tensions long dogging the interim unity government.
Some 50,000 public servants in Gaza have not been paid since the deal was penned as Hamas is no longer responsible for them, but the PA has not paid them. The situation has deteriorated further since the start of this year when Israel froze the PA’s tax revenues back as punishment for the latter joining the International Court of Justice.