Memos reveal UK plan against Hamas
Secret documents published on al-Jazeera, Guardian reveal how British intelligence agency helped Palestinian Authority draw up plan for wide-raging crackdown against Islamist organization. Recommendations include jailing group members, confiscating weapons and financial resources
According to the reports, the plan included the imprisonment of leaders and activists, the closure of radio stations and the replacement of imams in mosques. The plan was drawn up in 2004 and passed by a Jerusalem-based MI6 officer to Jibril Rajoub, the senior PA security official at the time.
According to British newspaper The Guardian, the bulk of the plan has since been carried out by the PA.
The British documents, which the Guardian says have been independently authenticated, listed suicide bombers and rockets as issues that need urgent attention.
Under the heading "Degrading the capabilities of the rejectionists", the MI6 Palestinian Security Plan recommends "the detention of key middle-ranking officers" of Hamas and other armed groups, and the confiscation of their arsenals and financial resources." A plan was also drawn up for combating arms smuggling from Egypt to Gaza.
Abbas and Erekat. Help from Britons (Photo: Reuters)
"American observers, and unofficially British observers as well, will report both to Israel and to the Quartet," one of the leaked documents said. "We could also explore the temporary internment of leading Hamas and PIJ figures, making sure they are well-treated, with EU funding."
The last sentence reflects a concern to distance the intelligence agency from the PA security organizations' established reputation for prisoner abuse. Since the Hamas takeover of Gaza, the Palestinian security organizations have been accused of violating human rights, including torture and imprisonment without a trial.
According to one of the documents, US general Keith Dayton, who until recently served as the American security coordinator between Israel and the Palestinians, told chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat in 2009: "The intelligence guys are good. The Israelis like them. But they are causing some problems for international donors because they are torturing people."
Donations from Britain to PA
Al-Jazeera claims it has a document pointing to donations from Britain to the PA, some of which were transferred to the Palestinian General Intelligence Service and the Palestinian prison service, where – according to the report – abuse takes place on a regular basis. A former prisoner suspected of Hamas membership is interviewed in the article, claiming that he was beaten with a stick in all parts of his body during his interrogation.
According to the documents, the PA pleaded with General Dayton to convince Israel to increase the Palestinian security forces' arsenal in order to fight Hamas. This is clearly expressed in Erekat's remark during a meeting with Dayton in June 2006, that the Presidential Guard is in urgent need for weapons and ammunition due to the situation in Gaza.
The same demand was made by Major-General Hazem Atallah, head of the PA security forces, who said that "in order to evaluate the weapons we need, we must take into account the weapons in the radicals hands, which include RPG rockets, etc. The small arms are not enough."
In June 9, 2009, as part of tightening the security cooperation, the PA gave Israel a document titled "The Palestinian Authority's security successes." The document, which refers to the period between February 2008 and May 2009, discusses "the arrest of about 3,700 activists belonging to armed organizations, summoning 4,700 people to questioning, the confiscation of more than 1,100 weapons, and the seizure of more than NIS 2.5 million belonging to armed organizations."
In a document from September 2009, Erekat is recorded as saying that "we have had to kill Palestinians to establish one authority, one gun and the rule of law… We have even killed our own people to maintain order and the rule of law."
He added that Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad was "doing everything possible to build the institutions. We are not a country yet but we are the only ones in the Arab world who control the Zakat (charitable religious donations) and the sermons in the mosques."
Roi Kais contributed to this report
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