The Hamas organization officially announced for the first time that it has received funding and assistance in training from the Lebanese Hizbullah terror group.
A report posted on Hamas' website recently, describes the establishment of the organization's first cell in Ramallah, immediately following the outbreak of the intifada.
According to the report, after the cell was founded, its members began looking for appropriate funding for their activity. Two funding channels were consequently opened, one vis-à-vis Hizbullah, by sending activists to Lebanon to train and return with money, and the other internal – money raised in the West Bank.
Until recently, Hamas has denied all claims that it received funds from Hizbullah. Other Palestinian terror groups have done the same, charging the reports were "Israeli propaganda" aimed at implicating the Lebanese group with responsibility for the intifada, in a bid to generate international – and mainly American – pressure on Syria and Iran.
However, in the current report on its website, Hamas boasts the cell sponsored by Hizbullah was one of the group's most prominent wings in the West Bank.
In the same article, Hamas also denies it has begun confiscating weapons from its members, and states activists continue to hold on to their arms, "and continue to improve them in order to provide protection for the Palestinian people."
Israeli policy on debate
Meanwhile, the Israeli government is set to vote Friday on its policy on the issue of relations with the Palestinian Authority, just one day before the Hamas-led PA parliament is scheduled to be sworn in Saturday.
On Wednesday afternoon, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is expected to hold a debate with senior security officials on the issue of Israel's policy regarding fund transfer to the PA once the Legislative Council is established in office.
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz is also expected also hold a discussion on the subject of Israel's strategy Thursday. The meeting participants are set to address the issues that concern Israel most, including fears Hamas will assume control over the Palestinian security administration and the PA's ability to reign in terror with Hamas leading it.
On Friday the government is expected to eventually discuss its policy, and decide on questions such as fund transfer to the PA, resuming dialogue with the Palestinians, continuing trade and economic cooperation and leading an international struggle against the new Hamas-led government.
Ronny Sofer contributed to the report