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Monday, February 5, 2018
Hamas Fears Israeli Assassinations

Hamas Fears Israeli Assassinations
Monday, 5 February, 2018 - 08:45
Gaza - Asharq Al-Awsat
https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1165261/hamas-fears-israeli-assassinations

Hamas and al-Qassam Brigades mobilized their members following growing fears
of Israel launching a sudden military or security strike as the army began
large-scale military maneuvers on Gaza border and vicinity of settlements
near the Strip.

Palestinian informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that since recent increase
in Israeli maneuvers, Hamas has stepped up alertness among its members. The
movement devised urgent and defensive contingency plans including several
scenarios in case of Israeli attack, similar to Israel's three wars on Gaza
in recent years.

The plans were distributed to the movements' members of both the security
and military branches, within Hamas and al-Qassam Brigades, along with the
security and military services of the government, according to the sources.

Other sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the movement had set up checkpoints
in various areas of the Strip and tightened its control over land and sea
borders, pointing out that security forces were required to remain alert and
report the situation.

Hamas distributed the instructions on these developments to its members ,
which also reflect the movement's fears that ISIS members could assassinate
movement leaders or security and military officials.

It seems that Hamas is afraid of repeating Israeli scenarios, including the
sudden assassination of a senior leader of the Qassam Brigades or the
movement, as happened in 2012 when Ahmed al-Jaabari was killed, which led to
the war on the Strip.

Hamas also seems worried that certain Shin Bet security agents could resort
to assassinations as in May last year, when they killed Mazen Fuqaha, the
prisoner released during 2011 deal.

Among the likely scenarios is Israel's assassination of Ismail Haniyeh, head
of the movement's political bureau, after the United States listed him on
itsterrorist list.

Following the recent updates, Hamas commadners are under tight security
conditions, especially that Israeli reconnaissance planes are always flying
over the Strip.

Despite these measures, which raised Gaza residents' fears of a possible
war, officials confirmed the movement will not initiate, and others said
they do not expect clashes to erupt at this time.

An official told Asharq Al-Awsat that it is unlikely for Israel to initiate
a war, at least for the time being, and that the confrontation could be
delayed.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that his government
"does not seek war" but will do "everything" to defend the country.

He told the ministers, "as I made clear to President Trump and later to
European leaders and to President Putin, our presence here is the main
factor hindering the expansion of radical Islam, led by Iran and Islamic
State, in the Middle East."

"We do not seek war, but we will do everything that’s needed to defend
ourselves," he reiterated.

Israeli army officials warned Netenyahu that Israel could soon face another
war with Gaza as a result of the deteriorating humanitarian and economic
conditions, according to Israeli television reports.

They warned that if the humanitarian crisis continues, Israel is liable to
find itself drawn into another round of fighting with Hamas.

The officials are even considering sending food and medicine to the Strip in
an effort to prevent the deteriorating conditions from becoming military
confrontation.

Israeli security sources indicated that the difficult situations in Gaza
increase the possibility of clashes, although they reiterated their belief
that Hamas is not interested in another conflict with Israel.

An economic collapse would make such a scenario inevitable in the future,
which is denied by Hamas leaders.

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