Mounting evidence indicates that during Operation Cast Lead (and in ordinary times) members of Hamas’s internal security forces served as commanders and operatives in Hamas’s military wing (Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades).

Issued on: 25/03/2009 Type: Article


Police officer and high-ranking terrorist operative

Hamas forum, January 20, 2009
A poster commemorating Adel Abu Awn, commander of the sniper unit in the northern Radwan
brigade of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades and at the same time an officer in the
Palestinian police force (Hamas forum, January 20, 2009)

Overview

1. As part of the anti-Israeli propaganda campaign which followed Operation Cast Lead, Hamas and human rights organizations often include the number of policemen and other internal security servicemen killed during the operation in the civilian death toll (as opposed to the combatant death toll). Their claim is that the internal security forces are civilian by nature, as they provide services to civilians and are not military-operative apparatuses such as Hamas's Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades).

2. That claim has no factual basis. An in-depth examination of Hamas-associated media shows that, contrary to the movement's public announcements, Hamas's supporters take pride in many of its members' double service designed to achieve Hamas's objectives: to assert itself in the Gaza Strip and to wage a violent struggle for the destruction of Israel. Many casualties which Hamas portrays as policemen tasked with enforcing public order and internal security in the Gaza Strip were at the same time operatives of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades , Hamas's military wing, and took part in military-terrorist activities against Israel (including in Operation Cast Lead).

3. Hamas and its affiliated media have recently published data on the number of internal security servicemen killed in Operation Cast Lead. Ihab Ghussein, the Hamas administration Interior Ministry's spokesman, said that 230 policemen who were members of the internal security services had been killed in the operation. Ihab Ghussein

The Hamas police published a list of 232 internal security servicemen killed in the operation. One of them was the Hamas police chief, General Tawfiq Jabr; also killed were 50 members of the Security and Protection service, including its commander Ismail al-Ja'bari 1(Al-Jazeera TV's forum website, June 29, 2008); 11 members of the Civilian Defense service, and 10 members of the National Security service and the Internal Security (Muslim Brotherhood website, February 4, 2009).

The Gaza Strip Police website
The Gaza Strip Police website, featuring a list of 232 internal
security servicemen killed during Operation Cast Lead

Al-Jazeera TV's forum website
Left: Ismail al-Ja'bari, the Security and Protection chief in the Gaza Strip who was killed
in Operation Cast Lead; right: Muhammad Khalaf, appointed as Al-Ja'bari's successor
(Al-Jazeera TV's forum website, June 29, 2008)

4. Muhammad Khalaf, Ismail al-Ja'bari's successor as chief of the Security and Protection service, said that Israel 's attacks on the Gaza Strip security forces during Operation Cast Lead were a "crime”, adding that "all the targets hit were establishments which provide services to Palestinian civilians...” (even though in practice, the activity of the organization which he heads focuses on providing protection to Hamas leaders) (Palestinian Interior Ministry website, March 12, 2009 ). In his statements, Muhammad Khalaf, similarly to other Hamas spokesmen, ignored the unmistakably military-operative activity carried out by some of the servicemen killed during the operation.

Statements made by senior officials of the internal security forces about the integration of their forces into military-terrorist activity

5. It is our assessment that Hamas's internal security apparatus is made up of over 13,000 operatives and five services: Police (formerly the Executive Force, which also includes the elite unit, the Rapid Intervention Force, and the Naval Police); the Internal Security; Security and Protection; National Security; and the Civilian Defense service. A significant number of Hamas's internal security servicemen also serve in the Hamas military wing (Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades), carrying out ad hoc assignments as well as operative-terrorist activities. In case of prolonged, extensive fighting against IDF forces (such as Operation Cast Lead), members of the police force and the other security services were supposed to be widely integrated into Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades forces at the expense of their internal security tasks.

6. During and after Operation Cast Lead, it was proven that there was no clear distinction between internal security servicemen and Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operatives. Several days before the beginning of the ground phase of the operation, Hamas police spokesman Islam Shahwan said that police forces had been clearly instructed by the leadership to fight against IDF forces. He added that senior police officers had drawn up action plans and that the police and the security forces were on high alert for any emergency or a ground assault. He further noted that the police forces had received clear-cut instructions from the leadership to fight the enemy in case of an invasion into the Gaza Strip (AFP, January 1, 2009 ). In Hamas reports about those killed in IDF air raids on December 27, such terms as "shahid [martyr] of Al-Qassam” and "mujahed” (holy warrior, commonly used to refer to members of the military wing) appeared next to the names of many policemen.

7. In an interview granted by Hussein Abu Azra, commander of the National Security in the Gaza Strip, he elaborated on that service's activity during Operation Cast Lead. At the end of the interview, Hussein Abu Azra emphasized that his forces would be part of the resistance to "any act of aggression against the Gaza Strip” and that they would defend the civilians using all means possible (Al-Risala, March 3).

Hussein Abu Azra's interview to Al-Risala
Hussein Abu Azra's interview to Al-Risala (March 3, 2009)

8. In an interview about the functioning of the Hamas police in Operation Cast Lead, Hamas police chief Jamal Jarah said the following: "The police was able to defend the resistance home front by tracking down agents and arresting them”; "the police took part [in the fighting] alongside the resistance [a commonly used term referring to Hamas's military-terrorist wing] and helped it defend the soil of Gaza” (Pal-media website, February 22). 

Double affiliation of internal security servicemen killed in Operation Cast Lead

9. One example of the double affiliation of internal security servicemen killed in the operation could be seen in obituaries published on the Hamas forum ( January 19, 2009 ) for Shhade Fathi al-Kurd. Two obituaries appeared in the same thread, one after the other, in one of which he was said to be a police captain ( naqib ) and in the other a commander in Hamas's military wing.

Obituaries for Fathi al-Kurd, police officer and at the same time artillery unit
commander in the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades
Shhade Fathi al-Kurd
 
Fathi al-Kurd
Shhade Fathi al-Kurd, "a commander and martyr of [Izz al-Din] Al-Qassam”, "Yavne2 Battalion artillery unit”   Fathi al-Kurd photographed in police uniform; however, the text reads, "A commander and martyr of [Izz al-Din] Al-Qassam”

Obituaries commemorating Muhammad Ibrahim Abu Sha'er, member of the internal security forces and at the same time an operative of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades artillery unit

Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operative Muhammad Ibrahim Abu Sha'er
Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operative Muhammad Ibrahim Abu Sha'er, killed on
January 6, 2009 in Operation Cast Lead. Left: the operative's body, with a headband
saying "Al-Qassam Brigades”; Right: the operative, called "a martyr of Al-Qassam”,
appears in the uniform of the Rapid Intervention Force, one of the internal security forces.
According to the Hamas forum, he belonged to Hamas's artillery unit (PALDF, January 7, 2009)

Adel Abu Awn, commander of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades'
sniper unit, and police officer
Adel Abu Awn
Left: an obituary for Adel Abu Awn, commander of the sniper unit in the northern Radwan brigade of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, who was also an officer in the Palestinian police. The poster shows Adel Abu Awn in police uniform, proof of his double affiliation (Hamas forum, January 20, 2009). Right: the original photograph of the poster, published on the Interior Ministry website in July 2008.

Adel Abu Awn
Other photographs of Adel Abu Awn. Left: a photograph of his head from his funeral, with
a headband of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades. Right: in civilian clothes and in police uniform.

An Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades poster
An Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades poster commemorating the death
of Adel Abu Awn, commander of the Radwan brigade sniper unit

Muhammad Yahya Muhanna, commander in the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades
and policeman in the Gaza police

Muhammad Yahya Muhanna
 
Muhammad Yahya Muhanna in Gaza police uniform
Left: Muhammad Yahya Muhanna, commander in the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades. Right: Muhammad Yahya Muhanna in Gaza police uniform
(PALDF, December 30)

Using police vehicles in Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades training

10. A video clip released by the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades information office, which was seized by IDF forces during Operation Cast Lead, shows well-armed operatives driving a Palestinian police vehicle during operative training.

Armed Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operatives standing on a police car
Armed Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operatives standing on a police car

Using police vehicles in Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades training
Yet another photograph showing two cars with well-armed operatives.
The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades logo was superimposed on the upper left
portion of the image. The cars were formerly used by the Executive Force in Gaza,
which was integrated into the Palestinian police about a year ago.

Using military-style weapons for routine police activities

Hamas police operatives
Hamas police operatives (dark blue) and operatives of the police Rapid Intervention Force (spotted blue) with Hamas military wing operatives (green) during the takeover of the Hilles clan compound in Shajaiyya (August 2008). Apparently, an RPG-7 rocket launcher is carried by one of the operatives. Such a weapon is not normally used for routine police activities and is designed for strictly military uses
(Hamas's PALDF forum).

Hamas's PALDF forum
Rapid Intervention Force operatives carrying PK machineguns
and RPG-7 rocket launcher (Hamas's PALDF forum)

Past examples of security servicemen who also served as operatives
in the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades 

11. Following are several examples from the time period preceding Operation Cast Lead, showing killed security servicemen who also served in Hamas's military-operative wing, Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

Maher Shhade Abu Tir

Maher Shhade Abu Tir, died in a targeted killing on October 30, 2007. In the central image he is shown in police uniform, while he was also an Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operative. The poster, with a logo of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, commemorates his death as a martyr and jihad warrior in the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades (PALDF, February 2, 2009). 3


Bilal Ibrahim Abu Awad

Bilal Ibrahim Abu Awad, died in a targeted killing on October 30, 2007. He appears in Palestinian police uniform, while he was also an Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operative. The poster commemorates, with a logo of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, his death as a martyr and jihad warrior in the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades (PALDF, February 2, 2009). 4

Muhammad Ahmed Abu Salem
Muhammad Ahmed Abu Salem, killed on August 21, 2007, is pictured once in police
uniform and once in Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades uniform (PALDF, January 1, 2008). 5


1 Ismail al-Ja'bari was chief of the Security and Protection service in the Gaza Strip, whose task was mainly to serve as security guards to senior Hamas figures. Similarly to Hamas's other internal security forces (including the police), the Security and Protection service falls under the Hamas administration Interior Ministry.

2 Yavne is the name of an Israeli city. Gaza Strip institutes, organizations and population centers are often named after Israeli villages, towns and cities where Palestinians used to live in the past.

3 http://www.paldf.net/forum/showthread.php?t=362154

4 http://www.paldf.net/forum/showthread.php?t=362154

5 http://www.paldf.net/forum/showthread.php?t=205075

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