By Dave Bender
Terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad (IJ) are cautioning Gaza residents to be alert for signs of infiltration attempts by Israeli intelligence-gathering units.
“If you are contacted by a ‘foreign entity’ or get a call from an unknown number, don’t answer the call,” read a flyer being distributed in the coastal enclave, suggesting that residents “alert Jihad security forces immediately.”
Islamic Jihad’s military al-Quds Brigades are readying for what they believe will be major Israeli retribution after five days of mortar and Qassam rocket strikes from Gaza into Israel, not to mention the kidnapping of three yeshiva students exactly a week ago near Hebron.
“Make sure to use false names, and do not update anyone, whether on the telephone or on the internet as to what is happening around you,” the flyer read, according to the Israeli daily Ma’ariv.
Both IJ and Hamas believe Israel is trying to exploit Gazans’ economic plight to gain information, and warn residents “not to be taken in by offers of economic aid, and to alert security forces of any attempts by anonymous groups to contact you.”
They suggest “setting a time and place to get the money, and allow security forces to take it from there.”
Last month, a Hamas military court sentenced two Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel; one was summarily taken out and shot, and the other hung.
They were suspected of supplying the Israeli army with data on smuggling tunnels and the whereabouts of senior officials, according to the report.
Overnight Wednesday, the Israeli air force hit five targets at several locations in Gaza, in retaliation for an earlier rocket bombardment. There were no physical injuries in the Palestinian strike, although a structure was damaged.
The Israeli response struck a hidden rocket launcher, “terror infrastructure,” and an “operations center,” according to the IDF Spokesman.
Palestinians on Thursday said two Hamas personnel were killed in the collapse of a smuggling tunnel to Egypt. An eyewitness said there was an explosion, apparently from within the tunnel, that brought about its collapse.
And fears of a presumed even bigger upcoming Israeli operation are beginning to show results on the ground: on Wednesday, Palestinian sources said that Hamas foreign affairs chief, Musa Abu Marzuk, had fled Gaza for Cairo.
Marzuk was responsible for the inter-Palestinian talks that resulted in the recent fragile unity pact with Fatah, which is already showing signs of coming apart at the seams. IDF forces are flooding the West Bank looking for both the teens, and any Hamas infiltration – with the aid of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah security forces.
Abbas on Wednesday, called on Hamas to give up Gilad Shaar, 19, Eyal Yifrach, 16, and Naftali Frankel, 16, who were abducted at a hitchhiking post last Thursday night.
Their whereabouts are unknown, and the Israeli army is cautioning their families and the public to be patient as the complex, intel-based, door-to-door search continues.
Meanwhile, during a visit on Thursday to the IDF’s Central Command in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directly blamed Hamas for the teens’ abduction.
Saying Israel is “doing everything in our power to bring back our three kidnapped teenagers,” the PM asserted that “They were kidnapped by Hamas. We had no doubt of that. It’s absolutely certain. Hamas repeatedly has called for the kidnap and murder of Israeli citizens.”
Netanyahu called the Islamist group an “organization that is designated as a terror organization by many countries, and it is a terror organization that is committed to Israel’s destruction.”
“I expect President Abbas to dissolve the union with this murderous terrorist organization. I think that’s important for our common future,” Netanyahu concluded, according to a statement released by his office.