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Hamas: Alleged meeting 'more like home raid'

Nov. 9, 2010 2:58 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 11, 2010 8:31 A.M.)
JENIN (Ma’an) -- A reported meeting between Israeli intelligence and Hamas officials was less a consultation and more a series of home raids and interrogations, Hamas representatives said.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Tuesday that PA officials had complained to Israeli internal intelligence leaders about a meeting held between department representatives and Hamas leaders in the northern West Bank.

According to the report, the meeting took place during the final days of October in the Jenin district of the northern West Bank, and included individuals from both Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Former Palestinian Minister of Prisoners Affairs Wasfi Qabaha and Sheikh Adnan Khadr, a senior Islamic Jihad in the West Bank, were both named as being present at the meeting. Speaking to Ma'an, both expressed astonishment at the story.

Qabaha said the visit "was rather a raid on our homes by Israeli forces and intelligence officers which terrified our children."

Further, he said he would not call the incident a meeting, since his "home was being ransacked by Israeli forces, my family and children were scared; those forces were persona non grata. How come they say they came to talk and drink coffee and at the same time?"

On 29 October, when the meeting was alleged to have taken place, Qabaha said he was told by Israel's military commander for the Jenin area that he was no longer permitted to access the village where he was born and where his family resides.

At the time he said a number of Israeli military officials, including the intelligence chief in charge of the Jenin district, stormed his home in the Al-Iskan neighborhood of Jenin.

"When they knocked on the door, their commander said he was sorry for inconvenience, and I answered that when people say 'sorry,' they know they have done something wrong," Qabaha said, adding that he was interrogated about the political situation and was told by others whose homes were invaded that a similar scene took place in their living rooms.

Qabaha said Israeli intelligence officials urged him to deliver a message to Hamas, warning the party against political activity. Such a move, he said, was aimed at sewing mistrust amongst Palestinians, but added that "we know the motive and can thwart such attempts."

Islamic Jihad member Adnan Khadr, also named in the Haaretz report, said on the morning of 29 October Israeli forces stormed his home in Arraba, east of Jenin.

Leading the invasion, he said, was an intelligence commander called "Jack," who burst into the home and asked sharp questions about the current political situation and peace negotiations. "I am a humble baker who has nothing to do with such matters," Khadr said he answered, then refused to engage in a talk with the official.

When he refused to speak, Khadr said the commander became angry, insulting him in the presence of his wife and mother. Khadr said his father then intervened, and a heated argument broke out. "The officer threatened to find a charge for me and take me to prison," he said.

Two weeks earlier, Israeli news reported a meeting between Israeli intelligence officials and PA representatives in the Jenin area. The Israeli news site Ynet reported only that the meeting was to "discuss security issues related to the region."

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