Gaza--former home of collaborators
Gaza--former home of collaboratorsIsrael News Photo: (archive)

Former Gaza Arabs who aided Israel in the war against terror say the only way to end rocket attacks is to return to Gaza and clean out the weapons.

Approximately 80 families living in the rocket-battered city of Sderot are Arabs from Gaza who were collaborators for Israeli intelligence before the destruction of Jewish communities and the IDF withdrawal from the area three years ago. Many of them are now advising the Israeli government to return to Gaza and clean out the area of terrorists and their weapons in order to bring peace and quiet to the western Negev and Gaza Belt communities.

One collaborator, who like his associates uses an alias and refers to himself as having been an "assistant" to the Israeli government, told the British Guardian, "When the Israelis ruled Gaza, people lived like kings. Only when the army goes into Gaza can they finish it." 

Only when the army goes into Gaza can they finish it.

Another man, named Subhi, advised that "the only choice is an Israeli military occupation to clean the area of weapons." He added he does not "believe there can be real peace."

Subhi told the Guardian he arrived in Sderot 12 years ago and now runs a successful business, drives a BMW and wears gold jewelry engraved with Hebrew letters. Subhi told the Guardian he began as in informant not for the money but because he thought it was the right thing to do. 

"Samir," who worked for Israel for 20 years, said he was very happy to help the government. He proudly recalled that he took revenge against Arab authorities who killed his brother, who was falsely accused of being a collaborator. His children now study at a Hebrew language school, and one of his four sons was an interrogator for four years for Israeli security forces at a nearby prison. He told the newspaper, "Everything is straightforward, not like with the Arabs. Here there is a law, and there are rights." 

A nearby neighbor said his life in Israel is good and that if he ever were to return to Gaza, "They would make a kebab [meat pattie] out of me. They'd chop me into pieces." All Arab collaborators face the possibility of execution by both Fatah and Hamas political leaders. Last month, Islamic Jihad arrested several Arabs on suspicion of helping Israel and was planning to carry out public executions. Hamas persuaded them to turn over most of the alleged collaborators.

Fatah leader and Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who is considered a moderate by the Bush and Olmert administrations, previously ordered the execution of dozens of Arabs who helped Israel. Protests by human rights activists saved the lives of 24 men who were on death row last year.

The Israeli government has helped the former assistants build new lives in Israel. Many of them left children behind in Gaza, but trying to bring the issue to the attention of the public is complicated. "Their contribution is considerable, but the problem is we can't make public what they have done," according to Natan Shrayber, a lawyer who worked for Israeli security forces.