The Hamas government in Gaza has proclaimed as a success its month-long campaign to crackdown on collaborators with Israel, adding that those that admitted to the charge are now enjoying the guarantees offered by the Islamist government at the beginning of the programme.
Hamas’s Interior Ministry spokesman Islam Shahwan said that a number of collaborators were arrested during the crackdown but that they were benefiting from the leniency which had been promised on 12 March when Hamas said it had a list of people it said co-operated with Israel.
“The security services are working on this issue with high focus and in secrecy. We are committed to all promises made by the security services for all collaborators who turned themselves in during the campaign,” Mr Shahwan said.
Muhammad Lafi, director of internal security in Gaza, told reporters that the campaign had achieved its goals, noting that Israeli intelligence activities had decreased along the northern Gaza border, according to the Palestinian Ma’an news agency.
Despite the promises of leniency, at least one alleged collaborator has been sentenced to death following the crackdown. The Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights said that an unnamed 48 year old man was sentenced to death by a military court last week after being convicted of spying for Israel, adding that it was “extremely concerned” about the use of the death penalty in Palestinian areas.
Those passing on information to Israel have undermined Hamas in Gaza. The so-called collaborators are paid modest amounts of money in return for details about the whereabouts of individuals, and other snippets of intelligence.
During the eight-day war between Hamas and Israel last November a number of those accused of collaborating were publicly executed, with the body of at least one man – thought to be Ribhi Badawi – dragged through the streets of Gaza tried to the back of motorcycles.
Since the war – which Israel says was caused by thousands of rockets being fired at the Jewish state from Gaza – Hamas has tried to enforce the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire. Nonetheless, other groups have fired several missiles into Israel, which has on occasion reacted by closing crossings, and with airstrikes.
Reports at the weekend suggested that there is growing tension between Hamas and a number of Salafist groups, which have attempted to fire rockets at Israel. According to Al Ayyam website, Hamas “has managed to foil many attempts to fire rockets over the past two weeks.”
Hamas and Israel have no direct communications: Israel brands Hamas as a terrorist organisation, while the Islamist group denies the Jewish state’s right to exist.