A senior official in one of the Palestinian Authority's security organizations was arrested recently by the PA for fear that he had collaborated with Hamas. The officer in question held the rank of aqid (equivalent to colonel) in one of the "more sensitive" branches of PA security, Ynet was told by a Palestinian source.
"The man is very well known and well-connected in the PA," said a security source, who reported that the man's arrest was made possible largely thanks to intelligence information passed to the PA by Israel and the United States.
Senior officials in the PA worry that the man's arrest is merely the tip of the iceberg, the first incident of a wider phenomenon of unknown collaborators with Hamas. This despite the fact that the PA functions under the assumption that there are 'plants' within the organization and works to expose them.
The officer's arrest follows a wave of "loyalty screenings" given to hundreds of policemen and security officers, some of them merely because of dubious family connections to Hamas rather than concrete suspicions.
The screenings are designed to prevent Hamas from gaining any sort of foothold within the ranks of the Palestinian Authority.
A committee appointed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to examine Hamas' Gaza takeover in 2007 revealed that almost a third of the Gazan security forces, allegedly belonging to the PA, were actually agents of Hamas.
A Palestinian source told Ynet that, in reality, the number of covert Hamas agents was at least double, ceding the de facto majority of PA security forces in Gaza to Hamas at the time of the overthrow.
In the meantime, PA security forces managed to uncover a Hamas ring in Ramallah, who were fundraising and building infrastructure for the group's military wing. They were in possession of some 4 million dollars. PA security sources estimate that this is only a small taste of Hamas' network in the West Bank.
Hamas warned the Palestinian Authority against continued cooperation with Israel and against harassment of its members. They stated the claim the group was building military infrastructure in the West Bank was deliberate misinformation.