Materials and equipment found in an explosives laboratory set up by the terrorist infrastructure exposed in Abu Dis in east Jerusalem (Israel Security Agency website, December 23, 2015).
1. During December 2015 the Israel Security Agency (ISA) exposed a large Hamas terrorist infrastructure operating in Abu Dis and Bethlehem. As of December 23, 2015, twenty-five of its operatives, most of them students from Abu Dis, had been detained. The operatives, handled and directed from the Gaza Strip by the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military-terrorist wing, planned to carry out suicide bombing attacks in Jerusalem and other locations in Israel. Thus, Hamas is trying to channel the current terrorist campaign into a military-type campaign at the expense of its popular, individual, spontaneous nature, while maintaining the lull in the Gaza Strip. That policy may lead to deterioration in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Hamas, even though that might not necessarily be the intention of the Hamas leadership.
Exposure of a Hamas Terrorist Infrastructure in Abu Dis and Bethlehem
2. Following is information about the terrorist infrastructure in Abu Dis revealed by the interrogation of its operatives (according to the ISA website, December 23, 2015):
1) The head of the terrorist infrastructure at Abu Dis University was Ahmed Jamal Musa Azzam, from the village of Yasuf (south of Nablus). He was recruited by Hamas terrorist operatives in the Gaza Strip a number of months ago to carry out mass-casualty attacks against Israeli targets.
2) Ahmed Azzam was in constant contact with his handlers in the Gaza Strip and trained by them to manufacture explosive belts and IEDs. Following their instructions, he enlisted other Abu Dis University students for the following missions: to acquirethe materials necessary for the manufacture of explosives, locate apartments, and recruit suicide bombers and infiltrate them into Israel.
3) The interrogation of the terrorist infrastructure operatives led to locating an explosives laboratory in Abu Dis in one of the apartments rented by Ahmed Azzam. An examination of the materials and equipment found indicated the laboratory could produce large quantities of various types of explosives. Some of the materials suitable for making explosive belts were bought in Israel and Ramallah.
4) Ahmed Azzam recruited two students from Israel with the intention of exploiting their freedom of movement to carry out attacks. They were:
A) Hazem Ziyad Umran Sanduka, a resident of the Old City of Jerusalem. He was enlisted to purchase materials for the manufacture of explosives, collect information about possible targets and infiltrate terrorist operatives and explosives into Israeli territory.
B) Daoud Muhammad Abu Qi'an, 29, a Bedouin from Al-Hura in the Negev. He admitted that at the beginning of October 2015 (that is, about two weeks after the current terrorist campaign broke out) he accepted Ahmed Azzam's offer to carry out an attack by smuggling an explosive belt or car bomb into Israel.
5) Interrogated by the ISA, the two said that in addition to their activities in the Hamas terrorist infrastructure, they supported ISIS and were active in local Salafist networks, each in his own place of residence.
3. The ISA also exposed a Hamas squad in Bethlehem operating under orders from the infrastructure in Abu Dis. Some of its operatives were students at Abu Dis University who were recruited as suicide bombers. One of them was Issa Nasr Issa Shawka, 19, from Bethlehem, who accepted Ahmed Azzam's offer to carry out a suicide bombing attack. He also helped Ahmed Azzam receive money sent from the Gaza Strip, and recruited two terrorist operatives to the squad, one of whom was supposed to carry out a suicide bombing attack in Jerusalem.
Hamas Calls to Escalate the Terrorist Campaign into an Intifada
4. Senior Hamas figures continue inciting popular terrorist attacks but also call for escalating the current campaign, turning it into a "military-type intifada" or "armed intifada." For example:
1) Mahmoud al-Zahar, a member of Hamas' political bureau, told the Palestinian Islamic Jihad-affiliated Paltoday news agency that the events in the West Bank and Jerusalem were an intifada in every sense of the word. He called on the Palestinians to turn the current intifada into a "military" intifada (Paltoday, October 19, 2015). On another occasion he called on the residents of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria to escalate the actions of the "blessed intifada." He claimed the Palestinian people had to arm themselves with everything at their disposal until Israel withdrew from all the territory of "Palestine" (YouTube, December 14, 2015).
2) Musa Abu Marzouq, a senior Hamas figure and member of Hamas' political bureau, told the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar that Hamas was working to extend the [current] intifada and turn it into armed "resistance" (Al-Akhbar, October 31, 2015).
Notice posted to Hamas' Facebook page. The Arabic reads, "The intifada…continues with force." The knife is the symbol the Palestinian popular terrorist campaign, while the gun symbolizes "armed resistance" (Facebook page of Palinfo, January 1, 2016).
The Significance of the Exposure of the Abu Dis Network
5. The exposure of the terrorist infrastructure in Abu Dis and Bethlehem clearly shows that Hamas military-terrorist wing is investing efforts to escalate the current popular terrorist campaign, as called for by its senior leadership. Such an escalation can be manifested by increasing its "military" aspect (which until now has been limited to shooting attacks) and attempts to carry out suicide bombing attacks in Israeli territory. If Hamas' efforts are successful the significance will be a severe blow to the spontaneous, individual, unorganized nature of the current terrorist campaign. It will turn it into an armed campaign similar to the second intifada.
6. The updated public expression of Hamas' striving to escalate the current terrorist campaign was evident in an article in the Lebanese dailyAl-Akhbar published on December 31, 2015. The article quoted a senior source in Hamas, who said that "during the next stage quality [sic] attacks can be expected against Israel." The source continued, "If we are forced [sic] to carry out suicide bombing attacks, we will not be prevented." However, the source claimed that the "military" attacks would focus on attacking Israeli security force vehicles with IEDs.
|7. Hamas seeks to incite a terrorist campaign in Israel, Judea and Samaria while preserving the calm in the Gaza Strip (in accordance with its governmental and movement interests.) Nevertheless, the success of military-type attacks in Israeli territory, especially suicide bombing attacks, may have ramifications for the situation in the Gaza Strip. Thus Hamas' desire to escalate the current terrorist campaign indicates it has chosen a policy of brinksmanship, combining calm in the Gaza Strip with an effort to ignite Judea and Samaria (considered legitimate by Hamas). That may lead to a deterioration of the situation between Israel and Hamas, even though that might not necessarily be the intention of the Hamas leadership.|
Hamas' involvement in shooting attacks was demonstrated by the lethal attack carried out by a Hamas squad on October 1, 2014, that killed the Henkin family.