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Quick Takes: News From Israel You May Have Missed

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A Hamas-affiliated university with a history of involvement in terrorist activity this week opened a branch in one of Gaza’s former Gush Katif Jewish communities, building on the foundations of evacuated Jewish structures.

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh led the dedication ceremony officially opening a new campus of Islamic University in the former Jewish town of Nitzarim, south of Gaza City.

Sections of the campus were constructed using the foundations of the remains of Jewish buildings, which were mostly demolished by Israel prior to its withdrawal in August 2005. The new school features classrooms, chemistry labs, faculty offices and a mosque.

Islamic University was founded by Hamas spiritual leader Ahmed Yassin, who was assassinated by Israel in 2004. The university’s main campus in Gaza City has been used by Hamas’s so-called military wing to recruit terrorists and suicide bombers, according to Israeli and Palestinian security officials. The officials said chemistry labs were used to manufacture and improve explosives for Hamas-affiliated militias.

Previous Israeli raids of the main university campus in Gaza yielded mass quantities of weaponry and Hamas incitement material.

Officials from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party last month claimed they captured seven Iranian military trainers inside Gaza City’s Islamic University, which they said was being utilized as a Hamas military training ground.

A leader of the Popular Resistance Committees, a Hamas-affiliated terror group, told WorldNetDaily that Islamic University is “extremely important” for recruitment of militants.

He said several members of his group study chemistry at the university to aid in the manufacture of explosives and suicide belts.

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department is defending millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded contributions the U.S. government reportedly provided to two Palestinian universities, claiming the schools are not involved in supporting terror-related activities.

The U.S. reportedly provided $2.3 million to Al-Quds University in the West Bank and $140,000 to the Hamas-affiliated Islamic University in the Gaza Strip. Both institutions are accused of participating in the advocacy, support or glorification of terrorism.

But State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said U.S. officials concluded after a review that neither institution supports terrorist activities.

According to the U.S. Foreign Operations Bill of 2006, it is illegal to fund universities which the Secretary of State “knows or has reason to believe advocates, plans, sponsors, engages in, or has engaged in, terrorist activity.”

Hamas Using Truce To Stockpile Weapons

Hamas is using a cease-fire forged with Israel three months ago to stockpile weapons and prepare for an armed confrontation, Defense Minister Amir Peretz announced this week. But Peretz said the truce would continue.

“We are definitely doing everything in order to preserve the cease-fire,” said Peretz, adding that Israel has “no reason to turn [Hamas's] strengthening into a real threat to Israel.”

Days after the Nov. 23 truce was agreed upon, Hamas leaders in Gaza granted a series of exclusive interviews to this column in which they said the new agreement would be used to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip, reinforce and train “fighter units,” and produce rockets for a future confrontation with the Jewish state.

Since the truce was forged, the Israel Defense Forces has been restrained from conducting anti-terror raids in Gaza or from taking any action against militants who are discovered launching rockets into the Jewish state.

“The cease-fire offers a period of calm for our fighters to recover and prepare for our final goal of evacuating Palestine,” said Abu Abir, spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees.

Israel Training For War With Syria?

Israel last week conducted military training exercises in a Palestinian city for a possible war scenario against Syria or Iran, according to top Palestinian intelligence officials.

The Israel Defense Forces completed a week-long, large-scale operation in Nablus, the largest West Bank Arab city. The operation, code-named “Hot Winter,” utilized four IDF battalions, reservists and border police guards and purportedly was aimed at arresting top wanted terror leaders in the city.

During the large operation, the IDF did not arrest any top terror suspects.

One senior Palestinian intelligence official said he found the operation “unusual” in that it involved a rotation of Israeli forces and “didn’t achieve anything militarily as far as fighting terrorism.”

“On the ground you had a massive number of soldiers who seemed to be conducting drills. They were in the city the entire week, with units switching. Normally, week-long military operations utilize the same units and don’t keep switching troops. In the end, after a week of a major military presence, what did the IDF get as far as fighting terror in Nablus?” the official wondered.

“The operation was very clearly an urban warfare training exercise, likely for a confrontation with Syria or Iran,” the official claimed.

Another top Palestinian intelligence official commented, “Nablus happens to resemble very closely as a model the city of Damascus.”

The Israeli government denied the claims.

Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief for WorldNetDaily.com. He appears throughout the week on leading U.S. radio programs.

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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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