Palestinian Affairs

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High-Ranking Hamas Operative Arrested, Spills Details on Funding, Temple Mount Riots

A “top-ranking overseas operative of Hamas” was arrested last week, according to a report Friday in the Times of Israel. The operative gave Israel’s internal security agency, the Shin Bet, details about how Hamas operates inside of Israel.

According the report, Mahmoud Toameh “gave the security agency a wealth of details” on the terror group’s operations.

In his interrogation, Toameh revealed that Hamas works with the Islamic Movement (an Israeli organization that promotes Islam among Israel’s Arab citizens) to keep Jews from entering the Temple Mount compound, by retaining a group of young men to harass and throw stones at Jewish visitors. These men, who ostensibly are studying Islamic theology at the site, are paid a monthly salary of NIS 4,000 to NIS 5000 ($1,150-$1,440) for their activities, the Shin Bet said.

Toameh said that before this, Hamas backed another project which similarly acted to prevent Jewish visits to the Temple Mount by employing hundreds of young men to harass Jews entering the compound. That venture was closed down by Israeli authorities in 2013, prompting the new cooperation between Hamas and the Islamic Movement regarding the Temple Mount, which he said Hamas took pains to keep hidden from Israel.

Toameh, who is reported to be a member of the “main economic council of Hamas,” provided details of how the group funds its activities, especially in the absence of funding from Iran, which stopped bankrolling Hamas when the terror organization supported Syria’s rebels against the Iranian-backed regime of Bashar al-Assad. In particular, Toameh told the Shin Bet that Hamas uses real estate deals as a means of transferring money from abroad.

Like other members of Hamas’s leadership, Toameh emphasized that the recent Hamas-Fatah unity deal does not mean that Hamas has changed its ideology:

Regarding the recent reconciliation between Hamas and the Fatah faction of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Toameh said that it was the result of a practical decision by Hamas and did not have any bearing on the group’s ideology. Hamas, he said, realized that in order to have a voice in the direction of the PA, and to gain greater political influence beyond Gaza, it would have to join the PLO and participate in general Palestinian government.

In order to maintain the pretense of moderation of the unity government, Rami Hamdallah was appointed as Prime Minister. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that Hamas is following the “Hezbollah model,” intending to maintain its own separate military capacity regardless of its participation in the government.

[Photo: The Temple Institute / YouTube ]