|Marching for Hamas in the center of Qalqilya, May 13, 2011|
In the 2006 Palestinian Arab municipal elections, Qalqilya, a city of more than 40,000 located right on the edge of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, elected a Hamas candidate as mayor. He was subsequently replaced in the course of intra-Arab intrigues and Fatah has been in charge since then. But in some significant respects, Hamas is still the local force to be reckoned with.
In the early hours of this morning (Tuesday), Israeli security forces - a blend of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), the IDF, and personnel of the Israel Police - converged on Qalqilya. From reports, the impression is of a massive operation including the elite Duvdevan unit undercover soldiers Egoz commando unit of the Golan Brigade, undercover Border Police officers from the Judea and Samaria district, and soldiers of the IDF's Kfir infantry brigade's Duchifat battalion, and the Artillery Corps' Reshef and Namer battalions.
|No secret about the Hamas presence in Qalqilya [Image Source: 2011 march]|
targeted, among others, the alleged local Hamas commander, who worked to renew Hamas activity in the Kalkilya region and in surrounding villages. The activities allegedly included "preparing the ground for terrorist activities," the Shin Bet said. The Hamas operatives were orchestrated and received instructions, as well as a high degree of funding, from Hamas headquarters in Qatar and in the Gaza Strip, "which assisted in building up the infrastructure," the Shin Bet added. Security forces raided addresses and arrested 24 Hamas operatives, some of whom served repeated past jail terms for past Hamas military activities, the intelligence agency said. Security forces also seized more than NIS 35,000 during the raids... "The Hamas infrastructure in Kalkilya is one of Hamas's oldest in the West Bank," the Shin Bet said. "This episode uncovers the ongoing activities of Hamas headquarters abroad and in the Gaza Strip, as well as the activities of local West Bank infrastructures, to realize their goal of building up their forces, with a view of reaching organizational and military readiness... Their end goal is to carry out terrorist attacks and engage in military activity against Israeli targets..." [Jerusalem Post, November 10, 2015]A total of 36 terrorism suspects, including the 24 Hamas people from Qalqilya, were taken into custody overnight. along with firearms and ammunition. Other Israeli raids this morning led to arrests of Palestinian Arabs in Shechem/Nablus (2 arrests), Bethlehem (3), Hebron (5), Jericho.(1) [source: Ma'an News Agency]
Is there any realistic Israeli expectation that Hamas has been uprooted from those places? No. Hamas is clearly present and embedded throughout Judea and Samaria - the mis-named West Bank (west of what? Jordan), and growing in influence.
But note also the malign influence of Qatar where the First Lady of the United States spent several days last week, departing on Friday after canceling ("because of bad weather") a second Middle East stop in Jordan. The cancellation left her "extremely disappointed", according to a Gulf Times report.
|Head of Hamas, Meshaal lives far from the rigours and dangers of Gaza|
in Qatar. Why? Ah, that would require a long explanation about the central
role of money in his brand of terror [Image Source]
Qatar is, in many ways, the ideal perch from which to safely oversee the spread of Hamas' influence and tentacles inside the arch-rival PA's roiling fiefdom.
Which leaves us to observe that Qatar has to be an odd place for Michelle Obama to spend time. Astoundingly rich because of the gas located deep below its arid sandy landscape, Qatar (to quote Wikipedia)
buys influence in Western countries through investments and donations... [investing its money] extensively in London real estate, and the regime has also made donations to prominent research centers in the United States. At the same time, Qatar maintains ties to Western adversaries, including Iran, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and extremist elements in Syria...That kind of balancing act probably explains why Qatar is so careful with what it reveals to its friends and citizens. To illustrate, if you look now at the current edition of the local newspaper, the Gulf Times (online here), you will see it carries a detailed report of the Israeli raid on Qalqilya, based on a syndicated AFP article (here). The AFP version mentions the connection to string-pullers in Qatar. The Qatar version (here) does not.
If you're wondering - yes, other publications that subscribe to AFP's syndication service, like Al-Arabiya (based in Dubai), The Malaysian Insider, and Daily Mail UK among others - also published the AFP report but did include the reference to Qatar.