Hamas has released a video of an Israeli man it kidnapped and murdered. Sasson Nuriel is seen being interrogated in the footage, with a blindfold strapped around his head.
Despite talk of a "cease-fire," Hamas has carried out acts of terrorism continuously. Security forces have said that Hamas' "double speak" where it claims it is committed to calm while continuing with terrorism, is an attempt to gain legitimacy before the Palestinian elections.
Hamas described the abduction and murder of Jerusalem-area resident Sasson Nuriel as the “first rain” in a series of planned abductions of IDF soldiers, a mocking reference to the IDF operation launched in Gaza to end Qassam rocket attacks on southern Israel.
Sasson Nuriel moments before his murder (Video: Channel 2)
A Hamas statement said the "liberation" of Palestinian prisoners is a duty all Muslims should perform either through combat, donations, or the abduction of “Zionists.”
“With the assistance of Allah, members of the prisoner-release unit in the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades were able to kidnap a Zionist Shin Bet man named Sasson Nuriel from occupied Jerusalem,” a statement by the group said.
Wanted prisoner exchange
According to the statement, Hamas terrorists abducted Nuriel in Jerusalem on Wednesday and intended to exchange him in the framework of a prisoner swap for Palestinian prisoners, but decided to kill him after Israel arrested several hundred activists over the weekend.
“During the ‘period of calm’ we have given the enemy an opportunity to release our prisoners," the group said in a statement, "but the enemy insists on detaining more and more people. Therefore the occupation government headed by the war criminal Sharon is responsible for the abduction and killing of Nuriel, as payback for the detentions, and because of the slaughters against our people in Jabalya, Tul Karem and Gaza”
The statement ended with a threat that “The Zionist enemy should be prepared for long battles during which, with the help of God, the Zionist occupier will pay heavily. We shall not allow the Zionist occupiers and the occupation soldiers to enjoy security and serenity on our occupied land and we promise our courageous prisoners to continue to be loyal to them until they are released, and hopefully this will be fulfilled soon with the help of God.”
A security source said following the murder that Hamas was planning an intensive terror campaign in Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel, while attempting to move closer to international elements in an effort to present itself as a moderate political force committed to calm, ahead of the Palestinian elections in January 2006. Hamas has no intention of disarming or ceasing armed attacks, added the security source.
Security sources added that Hamas is using the National Resistance Committee as one of its arms, as seen in the assassination of Musa Arafat. Another example of Hamas's ongoing terror activities was the failed bombing mission of Wafa Bas, who had planned on attacking Beer Sheva's Soroka hospital, where she was scheduled to receive medical treatment. Since the declaration of a calming down period, Hamas has fired Qassam rockets at Israel.
In addition, Hamas has exploited the recent period to arm itself with weapons and raise money, as part of an effort to build up its military capabilities. Around a quarter of the weapons smuggled through the Philadelphi Route after the disengagement found their way to Hamas, in an enormous weapons run, say security sources.
On July 14, the Palestinian Authority arrested Osama Bashiti, a Hamas member, who admitted that the organization used the 'period of calm' to raise funds amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars, with much of the money coming from overseas.
Earlier, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said that "We will be the ones making the decisions. Not (Hamas leader) Mahmoud al-Zaher or anyone else… and if the Hamas continues firing Qassams, we will send its leaders to the same place where (assassinated organization leaders) Rantisi and Yassin are."
Efrat Weiss contributed to the story