Amir Rappaport Maariv-Hebrew,
[Translation and summary by Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs Daily Alert - December 4, 2007]
Israel's security services believe that if they were not making arrests in the West Bank every night, it is quite probable that Hamas would overcome Fatah there as it did so easily in Gaza. In practical terms, this means that, to a great extent, Fatah control in the West Bank is an optical >illusion. Israel's security services are concerned at clear signs of Hamas strengthening in the West Bank. Even in the Fatah stronghold of "secular" Ramallah, the number of mosques has doubled in recent years as the number of worshippers has increased. At the same time, Israel has been unable to block the large flow of Hamas money to its welfare institutions, which function much better than the failed PA institutions.
Hamas is building up its military capabilities in the West Bank. Its forces are training and building bunkers in cities like Nablus and Kalkilya, while its activists plan attacks on Israeli civilian targets. Given this reality, is there any point in conducting negotiations with the heads of Fatah when the issue being discussed is the transfer of land that Fatah is unable to control without the continued presence of the IDF and the Israel Security Agency (Shabak). Of additional concern are the thousands of rifles and millions of bullets that were brought in from Jordan for the Palestinian police. In recent years, due to intensive IDF activity against weapons smuggling, the price of a bullet had risen to tens of shekels. It has now fallen drastically as ammunition from PA police warehouses finds its way into the hands of terrorists.
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