Daily Israel Report

Egypt Released Hamas Official Who Knows Where Gilad Shalit Is

Muhammad Dababash released Friday as gesture toward Hamas. Israel is worried about signs of progress in Hamas-Fatah reconciliation talks.
By Haggai Huberman and Gil Ronen
First Publish: 9/28/2010, 5:40 PM

Flash 90

Security sources said that Muhammad Dababash, who was released by Egypt last week, several days after he was arrested in Cairo, is one of the few people who know where abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit is being held. The report appeared in Yediot Aharonot, an Israeli newspaper. The release of Dababash, a senior Hamas intelligence official, is seen as an Egyptian gesture toward Hamas that is meant to promote reconciliation between it and Fatah. According to Egyptian media, Dababash was involved in smuggling weapons through the Sinai Desert, and possibly also in launching rockets at Israel.

The Israel Defense Force and other components of the Israeli defense establishment are concerned by reports coming from Damascus, on progress in the reconciliation talks being held there between the twin terror groups Hamas and Fatah.

A source in the IDF praises what he says has been effective recent security cooperation with Palestinian Authority security forces, including the investigations of recent Hamas shooting attacks on Jews in Judea and Samaria. A senior security source in the IDF's Central Command told Arutz Sheva's Hebrew-language service that "the Palestinian operations against terrorism are real. The reason is simple: they are not doing it for us. They believe that it is for their own good. It's not in their interest to have terror here."

Senior IDF officials say the situation today is in complete contrast to the reality that prevailed ten years ago, in the years that followed the Oslo Accords. They say the PA has forsaken the system of "revolving door" arrests: that is, the fictitious imprisonment of terrorists and their quiet release soon afterward. Nowadays, they say, any terrorist who is arrested and proved to have been involved in terror attacks is put on trial in the new courts that the PA's government under Salam Fayyad established under the supervision of donor countries and the European Union. Convicted terrorists are put away for long periods of time, the officials say.

However, the IDF acknowledged that the successful cooperation with the Fatah-controlled PA stems from the fact that Hamas is a common enemy of Israel and Fatah. According to the senior security source, "the Palestinian Authority does not care about preventing Hamas from killing Jews. But it fears that Hamas will carry out a military coup in [Judea and Samaria] as it did in Gaza. This is the only motive for PA's war against Hamas."

The IDF is thus concerned over reports of signs of reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, and by the possibility that Hamas will cease to be an enemy of the PA. According to the reports, the two terror groups have not reached agreement on security matters. The head of the Fatah faction in the Palestinian Legislative Council, Azzam Al-Ahmad, said Sunday that Hamas and Fatah had reached agreement on the electoral process in the PA and on the structure of the PLO, but that controversy remains about security cooperation with Israel, and about the continued operation of independent Hamas militia.

The head of Hamas's political bureau, Khaled Mashaal, said Monday that only a few small issues need to solved in order to achieve reconciliation with Fatah. Mashaal called on PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas not to continue negotiations with Israel because of renewed Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria.