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svgadminsvgOctober 27, 2011svgNews

Hamas: Disengagement Made Hiding Shalit Easy

Hamas interior minister Fathi Hamad said Israel’s 2005 “Disengagement” from Gaza, “helped us conceal Gilad Shalit for five years.”

Hamad was referring to the absence of an Israeli military presence on the ground in Gaza, which would have been able to control movement in the enclave while having freedom of movement in searching for Shalit.

Instead, Israel was forced to rely on aerial reconnaissance and informants — whose reports could not be independently verified — in its search for Shalit. According to Hamad, “the military wing of Hamas, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam, managed to keep Shalit despite constant Israeli attempts to recover him.”

Hamad, who was interviewed Lebanese newspaper Al-Safir, added that Israel’s situation was complicated by the difficulties it had recently faced in recruiting new agents in Gaza — a claim that cannot be substantiated as Israeli officials follow a policy of stringent silence about intelligence matters.

The 2005 “Disengagement” from Gaza, in which Israel uprooted the Jewish communities there and withdrew its forces, left the coastal enclave in the hands of the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA). But in July 2007 Hamas seized control of Gaza in an armed putsch.

Referring to the Shalit deal, Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya said that Israel had made a strategic mistake “when it decided to deport Palestinian prisoners abroad,” adding that deportation had “opened the door to wider horizons [for them]” in terms of “continuing the resistance.”

According to Haniyeh, the prisoners released will provide manpower and leadership in Hamas operations outside Israel. “All of Palestine is happy and content with the deal, particularly the families of prisoners,” he added.

Meanwhile, it was reported Thursday that PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas co-founder Khaled Meshaal will meet next month in Cairo in the hopes of restarting talks for a Fatah-Hamas unity government. The meeting will be their first face-to-face discussion since the two factions signed a national unity agreement in May.

Observers are concerned, with Hamas ascendant over Fatah in the wake of the Shalit deal, that the terror organization may see considerable political gains in PA elections and thereby become dominant not only in Gaza, but Judea and Samaria as well.

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