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Hamas’s Next Objective: Seizing Control Of West Bank

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JERUSALEM – The Hamas terror group will take over the West Bank if Israel evacuates the strategic territory to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, said Mahmoud al-Zahar, widely considered the head of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

“Israel thinks Fatah in the West Bank is there to serve it, but we will take over the West Bank the way we took over Gaza,” al-Zahar vowed at a major Hamas rally last week in Gaza.

Al-Zahar also warned Abbas’s Palestinian negotiating team against any “core concessions” to Israel during the summit slated to take place in Annapolis, Md., later this month.

“Whoever relinquishes a grain of Palestinian land severs an organ from himself. Palestinian land is one – from Rafah in the south to Rosh Hanikra in the north, from the Jordan River in the east to the Mediterranean sea in the west,” he said.

Al-Zahar’s statements should be taken seriously, said Israeli and Palestinian security officials, who noted that Hamas indeed appears to be setting the stage for a takeover of the West Bank, which borders Jerusalem and is within rocket range of Tel Aviv and Israel’s international airport.

Muhammad Abdel-El, spokesman for the Hamas-allied Popular Resistance Committees, told The Jewish Press that his group and Hamas have infiltrated “very deep” into Fatah as a prelude to “taking over the West Bank like we did in Gaza with help from the Palestinian resistance, including elements in Fatah, the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades and the Fatah Security Services.”

Prime Minister Olmert is expected to outline at Annapolis a Palestinian state in most of the West Bank, with Israel ultimately handing over the strategic territory to security forces associated with Abbas’s Fatah militias. But Israeli security officials are warning that Abbas’s forces are not strong enough to control the West Bank without the aid of the Israel Defense Forces.

Yuval Diskin, head of Israel’s Shin Bet Security Services, said last week that if control of the West Bank were handed over to Abbas, Israel would suffer a “significant threat to its security.”

Israeli and Palestinian security officials said they have specific information that Hamas is quietly preparing a West Bank takeover attempt. The officials said Hamas has been acquiring weaponry in the West Bank and has set up a sophisticated system of communication between cells.

In what is considered its most threatening move, Hamas has reportedly infiltrated all major Fatah forces in the West Bank and has been attempting to buy off Fatah militia members, often successfully.

According to Palestinian sources, Hamas has recruited important members of Fatah’s military wing, the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, which along with Islamic Jihad has taken responsibility for every suicide bombing in Israel over the past three years along with thousands of shootings and rocket firings against Jewish civilian population centers.

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About the Author: Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief and senior reporter for WorldNetDaily.com. He is also host of an investigative radio program on New York's 770-WABC Radio, the largest talk radio station in the U.S., every Sunday between 2-4 p.m (CHANGE TO 7-9 p.m.). His website is KleinOnline.com


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