Israel: April 18, 2004

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Hamas selected a new leader, but did not announce his name. It won't be possible to keep the name of the new Hamas leader secret for long, as Hamas keeps going via the face-to-face activities of the leadership. Hamas has been particularly hard hit in the last year as Israeli counter-terrorism tactics became more efficient. The Israelis have made an enormous effort to build an informer network in Palestinian areas. Many Israelis speak Arabic, and a large minority of Israelis (the Sephardim) came from other Arab nations in the late 1940s (expelled in retaliation for the founding of Israel) and look like Arabs (not having intermarried with Europeans as the Jews who went to Europe did.) Thus Israel can send individuals and teams of Arab appearing and Arabic speaking agents into Palestinian areas to manage their many Palestinian informers. The information collected from this network made it possible to arrest or kill many of the key terrorist leaders and bomb technicians. Bomb workshops were raided and bomb materials and weapons smuggling operations were interrupted. 

The success of Israeli counter-terrorism methods has not stopped suicide bombing attempts, but it has made them much less effective. Nearly all of them have been intercepted, or stopped (with a raid and arrests) before the bomber actually headed out for his target. The killing of two heads of Hamas in less than a month had forced Hamas leadership to move around much less frequently, and spend more time on trying to root out the Israeli informer network. Going after informers has often caused more harm than good, because it was often used as an excuse to settle other feuds and many innocent people were assaulted or killed.

 

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