In the past few weeks, the Shin Bet has broken up a massive terror plot directed by Hamas’s leaders in Qatar and Turkey, arresting over 50 of the group’s West Bank operatives in the process. Yaakov Lappin discusses this and other recent events with Eitan Dangot, Israel’s former coordinator of activities in Judea and Samaria:
“Hamas hasn’t budged one millimeter from its ideological commitment to Israel’s destruction, and it is implementing this gradually,” said Dangot. “Its military wing is building up force, and engages in rounds of fighting, like May’s conflict. Due to organizational problems, and secondary considerations created by Hamas’s sovereign rule over a population, the organization also opts for periods of calm, in line with its analysis of its interests at any given time.”
With Hamas’s home turf of Gaza facing limitations as a base for war with Israel, Hamas has reserved a strategic role for the West Bank, said Dangot. Beyond using it as a base for terror attacks targeting Israeli civilians and security forces, Hamas is committed to expanding its influence in the areas currently under Palestinian Authority (PA) rule, “step by step,” with the “objective of taking over the West Bank gradually and infiltrating the PLO,” he said.
In addition, he said that the rioting that occurred in Israel during the May conflict represents “the most urgent problem that Israel must take care of—sovereignty and disturbances within its borders.”
Dangot said that a “small but problematic part of the Arab-Israeli sector” exploited tensions, and saw a combination of criminal and nationalistic motives come together for unprecedented levels of violence inside Israel. This is a more alarming situation than security challenges in the West Bank, he said, since in the latter arena, Israel maintains strong intelligence coverage and is able to activate its force effectively while sharing the common interest of stability with the PA.