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Spy tactics

Spy tactics

Israel's attempts to take advantage of the destitution it creates include bribing Palestinians to spy on Palestinians. Those who refuse starve or die, writes Saleh Al-Naami


Khaled Abu Shamala, 38, was in a taxi heading to the crossing point of Erez that links Gaza to Israel. He was trying to phone his daughter, Fedaa, who was asleep when he left home, to tell her that he wouldn't forget to bring her a doll. He was on his way to have heart surgery in Jerusalem. When he reached the crossing point, an Israeli soldier escorted him to a room in the administrative building and told him to wait. An hour passed, then two, then three. Another soldier came to escort him to another room. Waiting for him was an officer of the Israeli domestic intelligence service, Shin Bet. The soldier told Abu Shamala that he could not proceed to Jerusalem unless he cooperated with Israeli intelligence and provided information on Palestinian factions.

Abu Shamala refused directly, condemning the immorality of the request. The officer laughed and started calling him names. Abu Shamala returned home depressed and exhausted. Two weeks later, on 28 October 2008, he died.

Khawla Arshid, 49, was a liver cancer patient. She underwent several chemotherapy sessions in an Israeli hospital. Three weeks ago, she was due for another chemotherapy session. She was stopped at the Erez Crossing and asked to collaborate with Shin Bet. She refused and was turned back. A week later, she died.

Gamal Abu Salam, 29, needed an operation to repair retinal damage. Doctors in Gaza referred him to a specialised Palestinian hospital in Jerusalem. At Erez Crossing, he was asked to collaborate with the Shin Bet. He refused and was sent home. His family managed to smuggle him through one of the tunnels to Egypt, where he received treatment and recovered. He'd likely have gone blind if he had stayed.

The Israeli Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) documented more than 30 cases of patients in Gaza who needed treatment in Israel but were refused passage at Erez Crossing because they declined to provide information to Shin Bet about the Palestinian resistance.

Often, intelligence operatives contact Palestinian youths and offer them money for information about the resistance. Selim, 23, is an unemployed college graduate living in Gaza. A week ago an unknown number came up on the screen of his mobile phone. A Shin Bet officer was on the line, offering him money in exchange for information about the resistance. Selim told Al-Ahram Weekly that the Shin Bet officer knew that he was unemployed and in dire financial straits.

According to Palestinian security sources, some Palestinian youths have agreed to cooperate with the Shin Bet. Some of them were caught and interrogated. They described the manner in which they were recruited and the information they gave, which has mostly to do with the whereabouts of Palestinian resistance fighters.

The security apparatus of the Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad, issued a statement telling Palestinian youths to remain vigil and take no incoming calls from unknown numbers in Israel. The Al-Quds apparatus called on Palestinians families to watch their offspring "so that they may not fall easy prey to the Israeli intelligence services".

A Palestinian official said that 80 per cent of Palestinian agents recruited are enticed through their need for money. Some become double agents, offering Shin Bet false information.

Fayez Abu Shamala was shocked when a man identifying himself as Rony and saying that he was an Israeli intelligence officer called him up. Rony asked Abu Shamala to collaborate. The request was particularly audacious, considering that Abu Shamala is a former mayor of Khan Younis and a widely read political writer who holds a PhD in Hebrew literature and served 10 years in Israeli prisons because of his political activism. Abu Shamala said that Rony knew that Ismail Haniyeh's government had relieved him from his position as mayor of Khan Younis and that the Ramallah-based government cut off his salary.

Rony told Abu Shamala that Hamas did a criminal thing when it relieved him from his post. Abu Shamala told him that this wasn't any of his business. Still, Rony called once more and was rebuffed yet again. His parting words to Abu Shamala: "You're too strong- headed. One cannot get through to you."

"I am sure that Israeli intelligence agents wouldn't have dared to call me had they not succeeded recruiting other people already," Abu Shamala said. He blames Palestinian infighting for this development, saying that divisions have demoralised the Palestinians.

Many Palestinians say Shin Bet operatives contacted them with an offer of $10,000 if they provide information about the whereabouts of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier captured and kept by Hamas. The operatives leave a phone number for Palestinians to call if they have information.

The link: http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2008/925/re8.htm

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