The Palestinian Authority rejects the accusation as “baseless lies.”
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Hamas announced the arrest on Sunday of Palestinian Authority (PA) intelligence officers for helping Israel assassinate a top terrorist last month in the Gaza Strip.
The interior ministry said that the cell had followed Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) commander Bahaa Abu al-Ata for several months on the orders of General Intelligence Service commander Sha’ban Abdullah al-Ghrabawi.
The PA security chief in charge of the Gaza Strip then passed on the information “directly to the Israeli occupation intelligence services,” the ministry said. Sharpening the charges further, it said that the men had followed the terrorist “until the last hour before the assassination was carried out.”
In a video posted by the ministry online, some of the arrested men were shown admitting that they had followed and collected information about al-Ata on al-Ghrabawi’s say-so.
One unnamed prisoner said, “I got a phone call from Ghrabawi, who started asking where Bahaa lived, if he lived in Shejaiya or Gaza City. He appointed me to be in charge of monitoring the house of Bahaa Abu al-Ata.”
The Fatah faction of the PA rejected the accusation outright.
“Hamas’ announcement about the assassination of Abu al-Ata is baseless and theatrical lies to evade the elections,” it said in a statement.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas announced in September at a speech to the U.N. General Assembly that he would hold general elections for the Palestinian parliament, but in November he said that there would be no vote unless it included eastern Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
Bahaa Abu al-Ata was the head of the PIJ’s armed wing, the Al-Quds Brigades. Jerusalem held him personally responsible for many serious attacks emanating from the Gaza Strip into Israel over the last several years.
After Israel’s air force sent a missile into his bedroom in mid-November, killing him and his wife, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called him “a ticking time bomb.”
In retaliation, the PIJ launched over 450 rockets and mortars at Israel’s south over a two-day period, injuring dozens of Israelis, most of them lightly. One eight-year-old girl collapsed at home, apparently from a heart attack due to stress from a rocket alert, and was hospitalized in serious condition.
Hamas sat out the skirmish, for which it was roundly condemned by the PIJ and other Palestinian factions. The current conclusions from its investigation of the targeted killing could be seen as a way of rejuvenating its image on the Gazan street.