Hamas has been making concerted efforts in recent months to renew its activities in the West Bank, Israeli security officials note.
According to the officials, over the past few weeks, the Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet security service have intercepted relatively large amounts of funds that Hamas activists abroad have tried to smuggle into the West Bank as part of these efforts.
Since Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, and its expulsion of the Fatah leadership there, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank has come down hard on Hamas activists in the area. Hundreds of Hamas activists have been incarcerated for extended periods, funds have been confiscated and Hamas-affiliated charities and organizations have been closed down.
However, following last October’s prisoner-exchange deal that saw Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit freed from Hamas captivity in return for the release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, Hamas’ standing in the West Bank has been boosted.
One indication of this has been the seized money, which, security officials believe, was intended to help reignite Hamas activities following a long period during which the organization had difficulty in operating in the West Bank.
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