Photo: AFP
Abbas - saved by Israel?
Photo: AFP
Report: Israel foiled plot on Abbas’ life
Israel warns Palestinian Authority chairman Hamas planned assassination attempt in his Gaza office, Sunday Times reports; according to report, plot also targeted Mohammed Dahlan
Israel thwarted a plot to assassinate Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas planned by Hamas’ military wing Izz al-Din al-Qassam, the British daily The Sunday Times reported.


According to the report, Abbas was to be targeted in his Gaza office. Israeli authorities warned Abbas of the plot and he stayed away from the office at the appointed time, the report said.


In recent weeks tensions have increased between Hamas, which assumed charge of the government in January, and Fatah, headed by Abbas. If the report is verified, the incident will signify that tensions have climbed even higher.


Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist, believes Abbas is trying to interfere with their rule. The Hamas government
has met many difficulties since it took office, primarily on the basis of the financial crisis in the Palestinian Authority, which worsened due to the international monetary boycott on Hamas until it agrees to certain demands. Evidence of the fiscal crisis was seen Saturday when thousands of government employees held mass demonstrations protesting the fact that their salaries were withheld for the month of March.


“Hamas considers Abbas to be a barrier to its complete control over Palestine and decided to kill him,” said a Palestinian official who previously served as former Chairman Yasser Arafat’s advisor and is now a close associate of Abbas. According to the report, a plot was also directed against Mohammed Dahlan, Abbas’ senior representative in Gaza.


The sources could not say who among the Hamas leadership covertly gave the green light to the plot. In a recent broadcast on al-Arabiya, senior party member Muhammad Nazzal accused Abbas of “besieging and isolating the Hamas government.”


'We monitor every movement of Hamas'


Abbas, who is surrounded at all times by his own personal security guards, divides his time between his offices in Gaza and Ramallah. In the West Bank he is considered safe, but in Gaza, where Hamas has a tighter hold and there are more armed organizations, the threat to Abbas is much higher.


Former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz recently rejected a request to supply more weapons to Abbas’ guard. With that, an Israeli official was quoted in the article saying, “We monitor every movement of Hamas in Gaza. So when we learnt that Abbas’ life was in danger, we made sure to inform him without delay.”


Dr. Matti Steinberg, former Shin Bet advisor, said he would be surprised if the direction was given by Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, or by the organization’s exiled leader in Damascus, Khaled Mashaal. “However, such an action by the military wing of Hamas is very plausible,” Steinberg said.


Meanwhile, Abbas and Haniyeh met to resolve the disagreements between their parties. The two discussed the division of security responsibilities in the PA and are expected to meet again Sunday evening.


At the end of the meeting, Haniyeh said, “We must remember that our chief problem is with the occupation, the settlements, Jews in Jerusalem and Israel’s unilateral policy. This is the real challenge and problem.” Abbas’ spokesman said the meeting dealt with the issues facing the Palestinians and all the disagreements between the sides.


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