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Quick Takes: News From Israel You May Have Missed

Iran, preparing for a possible confrontation with the United States and Israel over its nuclear program, has been training and funding Palestinian groups to carry out large-scale terror operations in the event of a U.S. or Israeli attack, according to sources among both Palestinian security officials and terrorist leaders.

The funds, the sources said, are meant to offset the fact that other Palestinian groups are receiving funds from competing sources.

The security officials said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah organization, in coordination with Israel-based U.S. security coordinators, has stepped up payments to Fatah militias and cells of the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades on the condition that they cut contact with Iran and the Iranian-backed Hizbullah militia.

Congress Bans Weapons Transfers to Abbas

Congress has approved $59 million in aid to fund militias associated with Abbas’s Fatah organization after an earlier pledge of $86.5 million was blocked for fear the money might reach terrorist groups.  The aid package contains a new qualification stipulating that the money must not be used to purchase weapons.

The qualification follows a series of WorldNetDaily exclusive interviews quoting Fatah militia members stating they will use any American weapons to target Israel. WND also quoted top terror leaders claiming they will obtain U.S. arms, and Israeli and Palestinian security officials stating that Fatah forces slated for American assistance are heavily infiltrated by terror groups.

The U.S. funding plan calls for the strengthening of Abbas’s Force 17 presidential guard units, which serve as de facto police forces in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. 

Many members of Force 17 are openly members of the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades terror organization. 

The Brigades, Fatah’s declared military wing, took responsibility together with the Islamic Jihad, for every suicide bombing in Israel during the past two years and for scores of shootings and rocket attacks.

In the past few weeks Israel has repeatedly raided Force 17 compounds and arrested wanted terrorists from the units. Additionally, last June Abbas appointed senior Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades leader Mahmoud Damra as commander of Force 17. Damra, who was arrested by Israel in November, was on the Jewish state’s most-wanted list of terrorists.

Hamas to Join U.S.-funded Militias?

Just days after Congress approved the plan to fund Fatah, the Hamas terror group and Abbas’s Fatah faction approved a plan to incorporate Hamas militias and terror cells into a unified security force. 

According to the plan, Hamas’s so-called military wing, responsible for scores of anti-Israel terror attacks, will be allowed to continue operating under the aegis of the PA’s Interior Ministry. The plan calls for all armed organizations, including Hamas, the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, and Force 17 to maintain a single operations center under the authority of Abbas.

Since the U.S. aid was announced, Fatah has been working with American regional security coordinators to expel members of rival groups from its forces.  But Abu Abdullah, a leader of Hamas’s military wing in the Gaza Strip, told WND, “It doesn’t seem Fatah’s campaign to oust Hamas from inside their organizations has made a difference for us as far as our penetration of Fatah.”

Hardline Islamic Rule Targeting Non-Muslims in Gaza

A Palestinian group this week bombed a Christian bookstore in the Gaza Strip in the latest targeting of non-Muslims in territories evacuated by Israel and now controlled by the Palestinians.

A group calling itself the Sword of Islam claimed responsibility for the blast, which targeted a store funded by American Protestants that exclusively sold Christian books. Two nearby Internet cafes were also bombed.

Sheik Abu Saqer, a prominent Gaza-based preacher and leader of the Jihadia Salafiya Islamic outreach movement, claimed the Christian bookstore was “proselytizing and attempting to convert our people.”

“As a principle we believe that Jews and Christians will always do everything in order to keep Muslims far from their religion,” Abu Saqer said.

The bookstore bombing was the latest targeting of Christians in Palestinian cities evacuated by Israel. In November, a church in the Gaza Strip was badly damaged in a fire security officials attributed to local Islamist groups. In September, Palestinian gunmen attacked and set fire to the Young Men’s Christian Association headquarters in Kalkilya, a large West Bank city controlled by Hamas.

Some analysts called the recent bombings of secular and Christian institutions in Gaza indications that Hamas may be seeking to impose Islamic rule on the Palestinian population. Pool halls and movie theaters have also recently been targeted.

Israeli officials say Hamas has established hard-line Islamic courts in the Gaza Strip and created the Hamas Anti-Corruption Group, described as a kind of “morality police” operating within Hamas’s organization.

Responding to criticism, Hamas chief in Gaza and former foreign minister Mahmoud al-Zahar told WND: “I hardly understand the point of view of the West concerning these issues. The West brought all this freedom to its people but it is that freedom that has brought about the death of morality in the West. It’s what led to phenomena like homosexuality, homelessness and AIDS.”

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

About the Author: Aaron Klein is a New York Times bestselling author and senior reporter for WND.com. He is also host of an investigative radio program on New York's 970 AM Radio on Sundays from 7 to 9 p.m. Eastern. His website is KleinOnline.com.


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