Hamas on killing spree in Gaza...
I guess this is Israel's fault, no?
News stories about bodies found at sea are occasionally published by Gaza newspapers. The number of such bodies isn't huge, yet not all those drowning victims chose to go swimming voluntarily. The Gazans who found their death at sea include mid-level officials at sensitive government ministries, the Interior Ministry for example, alongside police and security officers.
Some of them were shot in the head before being sent on their swim.
There is a common denominator to these deaths: All of the victims were designated as traitors by the secret service of Hamas' military wing in charge of counter-espionage and executed as collaborators.
And these are not just simple collaborators, but rather, people who penetrated deep into Hamas' government; so deep that Hamas leaders are embarrassed to expose the failure and prefer to make these people disappear, with or without a brief court-martial.
Gaza's streets are teeming with rumors. Stories of people who disappeared at sea or elsewhere stay on the agenda. The whole of Gaza, as if amok-stricken, takes part in the hunt. Posters urging a war on collaborators hang in the streets; the issue is discussed on the radio and during sermons at mosques. In the upcoming school year, the topic will be added to the curriculum, with Gaza children learning about the dangers inherent in collaborators. Teachers will be asked to explain what good, suspicious children do: Turn in their parents.
This huge manhunt is not a sign of strength, says a senior Israeli security official – the opposite is true. These are clear signs of distress for Hamas' regime.
The more time passes from the Turkish flotilla and easing of the blockade, the more blurred Hamas' achievements become. Despite some success stories, the list of failures is much longer: The group failed to breach the naval blockade, failed to breach the obstacle of global recognition (Hamas flirts with the Norwegians and Swiss, who make great promises without the ability to deliver,) and failed to breach the obstacle of Arab recognition. In fact, the Arab League recently permitted Mahmoud Abbas to embark on peace talks with Israel.
Indeed, Gaza residents get 30-40% more goods than they did before the flotilla and the standard of living is rising. However, they continue to live in a cage. They may have a little more food and enjoy a little more luxury, but it's still a cage. Meanwhile, the religious pressure keeps building up inside the Strip. Religious laws are becoming stricter and expand: Beardless men feel unease, while women are not allowed to smoke nargilas and must don a burqa, and so on. Gaza's streets are becoming Iran-like, to the chagrin of many Strip residents.
In late May, three people were publically executed after spending long months in jail and being accused of collaboration with the Shin Bet. Shortly thereafter, Hamas announced "40 days of mercy" where all collaborators were urged to turn themselves in and win a pardon. Twenty people complied with the request. During these 40 days, Hams sent thousands of text messages, urging their recipients to come clean and promising that they will be granted amnesty.
The 40 days ended on July 10th. Hamas granted the undecided another 24 hours, and immediately after that – and up until now – embarked on a major campaign of arrests and manhunts for the people blacklisted by the counter-espionage unit. This unit, which reports directly and exclusively to Ahmed Jabari and Mohammad Deif, comprises professionals who were trained not only in Syria and Iran. The Gaza "students" undergo orderly courses on espionage and counter-espionage, learning among other things about coded communication systems. For example, they are being taught about the alleged breach of Lebanese phone networks by Israel.
The manhunt for collaborators follows the lessons drawn in the wake of Operation Cast Lead. Hamas was surprised to discover how deeply it was exposed to Israel's intelligence services and decided to address the problem. Israel would do well to understand that despite what we want to think, both Hamas and Hezbollah excel at drawing lessons. For example, any cell that is nabbed and jailed by Israel undergoes a debriefing with the help of more veteran prisoners: How were we nabbed? Who screwed us over? The conclusions are disseminated once they're reached.