Hamas is actively reining in its more extreme factions, Harel says, and established a special force of some 800 men a year ago to take charge of that process. All of that is in Gaza, but in the West Bank where Mahmoud Abbas' Palestinian Authority is nominally in charge, things are different. And one of the things that makes them so different, according to Harel, is the infamous Gilad Shalit Transaction.
He offers a survey of what Israelis have gotten - and can expect - from the post-Shalit status of a circle of hardened practitioners of terror now back in circulation and doing what they do best. He observes what everyone - other than the Israeli government officials who actually sold the Shalit deal to an ill-informed public - knows well, namely:
"exile in Gaza has not persuaded most of them to go into a new line of work. The senior figures among them were co-opted into Hamas’ apparatus in the Strip and some have been given key appointments relating to the renewal of the networks in the West Bank..."Among the more prominent of today's crop of leading Hamas terrorists released from their Israeli cells in the past two years:
- Some 80 planned terror attacks on Israelis in the West Bank have been thwarted in the course of the past two years by the Shin Bet, Israel's vaunted General Security Service. These were ambitious plans involving explosives, kidnappings and shootings. All the planners, says Harel, had gotten their freedom in the Shalit deal.
- Salah Aruri, deported about a year before the Shalit deal and now operating from Turkey, "spearheads Hamas’ military activity" in Harel's words - working in coordination a large number of Shalit terrorists. It's they, says Harel, who lead the Hamas military wing in the West Bank, even though all of them live and operate from the Gaza Strip.
- Mazen Fukha, a key member of a Hamas gang active in and around Hebron during the 1990s, was convicted of kidnapping and murdering Sharon Edri, an IDF serviceman, in 1996 and of carrying out the terrorist attack on Tel Aviv's Cafe Apropos during Purim of 1997; three women were murdered in that assault. In 2002, he was one of the heads of an attack - via a human bomb - on a bus at Miron Junction; nine Israelis were murdered in that terror outrage. Today, free, he is one of the Hamas men who leads its military wing in the West Bank from his Gaza Strip home.
- Harel refers to numerous cases of terror gangs, groups and networks by the Shin Bet in a little noticed report some months ago in which the central roles are taken by Shalit deal graduates.
A bomb exploded on a city bus in the Tel Aviv area this afternoon. A veteran Hamas spokesperson, Musheer al-Masri, praised it tonight on Al Aqsa TV, the Hamas satellite channel:
“We welcome the operation in Tel Aviv... It comes as a response to all the actions the Zionists perpetrate daily. The Jews need to pay a price. The Palestinians won’t stand by..." [Times of Israel]Now the goals and barbaric methods of the Palestinian Islamists have always been clear enough to anyone who cares to pay attention. The real question is not what makes them keep acting like savages but rather why anyone on the victims' side would ever consent to provide them with fresh stocks of seasoned, committed leaders. It's equally incomprehensible to us that the government of the United States, and in particular Secretary of State John Kerry, would continue to push ahead relentlessly to engineer more such shabby and self-defeating releases. If it's because they don't know how the Shalit deal worked out, then from this evening let's acknowledge that's no longer true.
Could it be they know and just don't give a damn?