Nadav Argaman, who has been serving as head of Israel’s clandestine police force Shin Bet since 2016, on Wednesday warned members of the Political-Security cabinet of turning Hamas into a new Hezbollah should Israel not take steps to limit the terror organization’s buildup as part of the new arrangement deal in Gaza.
Argaman read to the prime minister, ministers and IDF chief of staff an article that was published in Yedioth Ahronoth that same day, about the way the Netanyahu government had dropped the ball regarding Hezbollah, allowing it to grow exponentially over the past decade, to the point where even an attempt to eradicate it would necessarily result in great civilian casualties on the Israeli side of the border. The Shin Bet chief warned against a similar development in the Gaza Strip.
He also reiterated his opposition to weakening the Palestinian Authority while strengthening Hamas and criticized Defense Minister Naftali Bennett’s decision to offset the transfer of money from Israel to the PA by the amount Ramallah spends on salaries to terrorists behind bars and the families of dead terrorists.
Argaman believes it is wrong to punish the PA that aids the Shin Bet and the IDF in countering terrorism in Judea and Samaria, while at the same time rewarding Hamas in the form of humanitarian relief. Argaman is concerned about losing the cooperation of the PA security force.
Nadav Argaman, 60, served previously as deputy head of the Shin Bet, as the force’s Operations Division chief, and as the Shin Bet representative in the United States. He was appointed to the top job by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in February 2016.
In November 2012, at the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense, Argaman commanded the assassination of Hamas military wing commander Ahmed Jabari.
According to a Wednesday report in Yedioth, the cabinet did not respond warmly to Argaman’s warning, as Minister Yoav Galant (formerly a candidate for IDF chief of staff), DM Bennett and PM Netanyahu all issued statements suggesting the calm in Gaza was more important than resolving the conflict with the PA.
The cabinet’s attitude is easily explained by the fact that a lot depends on peace along the Gaza border between now and March 2, election day. Should Hamas rock the boat again, threatening the lives of Israelis who live alongside the border fence, the Netanyahu government’s competence would be questioned, costing Likud and the rightwing coalition votes.