חשיפה: סיפורו של “ג’ייקוב”, הסוכן הכפול של חמאס שהצליח להערים על השב”כ
حصري: قصة “جيكوب”، عميل حماس المزدوج الذي نجح في تضليل الشاباك
Six weeks ago, I reported here that a senior Hamas operative was seriously injured by a bomb planted in his car in southern Lebanon. I also reported, based on confidential Israeli security sources, that one of its assassination squads was responsible for the “hit.” My source told me that Israel launched the attack because it discovered that Mohammed Hamdan, the victim, was organizing a Hamas missile operation inside Lebanon which would ship advanced Iranian weaponry via that country onward to Hamas.
After the bombing, Hezbollah and Lebanese intelligence sources pieced together the Israeli operation, identifying the two Israel agents involved (who escaped the country just before the bombing) and their two local operatives who facilitated the operation. One of them escaped to Turkey, where he was apprehended by Turkish intelligence after Lebanon’s prime minister, Hariri personally appealed to Turkey’s intelligence chief. The Lebanese agent has been returned to Lebanon, where he is presumably helping authorities expose whatever elements of the plot they don’t already know.
Yossi Melman published a new expose on this case in which he revealed that the Hamas operation in Lebanon was not as claimed in the newspaper articles published after the bombing. Rather, Hamdan was seeking to create a local Hamas cell which would operate its own missile batteries inside Lebanon. In the event of an Israeli attack on Gaza, Hamas would initiate rocket attacks from Lebanon on its behalf. The intent was to create a “northern front” against Israel, and so demoralize the nation, making it realize that an attack on Gaza would mean a multi-front war, rather than a discrete localized conflict.
According to Melman, after the assassination attempt Hezbollah discovered what Hamdan’s real mission was and the militant group was furious. Hezbollah is a highly disciplined organization which prides itself on maintaining tight control on its territory and operatives. The idea that Hamas was freelancing under its very nose angered the Lebanese Islamist group, which demanded the liquidation of the operation. The IRG’s chief commander, Qassem Soleimani, even engaged in the process of peacemaking between Hamas and Hezbollah. This resulted in an assurance that Iran would make stronger attempts to support and defend Hamas and its Gaza enclave.
While I generally respect much of Melman’s security-intelligence reporting, there are a few difficulties in story: I find it almost impossible to believe that Hezbollah, which maintains one of the most adept intelligence operations in the Middle East, would not know Hamdan’s true intent. How could such an operative amass rockets and the infrastructure necessary both to store them and plan their launching in the event of an attack on Gaza, without Hezbollah knowing? Where would he get the rockets from, if not Hezbollah? How could Hamas expect that in the event of a Gaza war they’d be able to fire all these missiles from Lebanon into Israel without Hezbollah taking notice? Did they think the Lebanese militant group would react supportively after being deceived? And that Hezbollah too would join in an attack on Israel that would create a second front and relieve pressure on Gaza? That seems far-fetched in the extreme.
My Israeli security source has added an important new dimension to Melman’s report: he tells me that Hamas was running a double agent who purported to work for Shabak. His code name was Jacob. He’d been recruited by the Israelis and worked for them for five years while he was a mid-level operative in Hamas’ military wing. When Jacob learned that the Israelis were asking questions and seeking information about Hamdan, he warned Hamas that he should be vigilant in protecting himself. This was one of the reasons that Hamdan didn’t enter the car to start the engine, but rather started it through the driver-side window. That’s what saved his life. As it is, the 1-pound explosive charge severely injured his leg and doctors had to amputate his foot.
My source further reveals that Jacob was given a cover story about Hamdan’s mission to tell Israeli intelligence. That’s how the Israelis were fooled into believing that the operation involved shipping missiles to Gaza via Lebanon. In this way, Hamas hoped to put the Israelis off the trail and have them monitoring ship traffic in the eastern Mediterranean seeking the weapons shipments, instead of focusing on the real mission to amass a rocket arsenal in Lebanon itself.
As for Hezbollah, Hamas believed that it would determine immediately that this story was a ruse since it would know there were no such missile shipments going through Lebanon to Gaza. It would attribute the cover story to Israeli disinformation. So the Gaza group expected Hezbollah too would be diverted by the false story it concocted.
In Melman’s report, he notes that Mossad chief, Yossi Cohen, has made a point of stepping up assassination operations against Palestinian targets. That’s how Omar Zayed was murdered in the Palestinian embassy in Sofia several years ago. It’s also how a Hamas drone-designer Mohammed al-Zoari was murdered in Tunis last year. However, in this case not only did the assassination fail, but Israeli intelligence was fooled into believing one of its Hamas spies was a trustworthy asset, when he was serving Hamas’ interests. That’s an intelligence failure.
Compounded by an even more fundamental strategic failure: assassinations in general serve little purpose in debilitating Palestinian or Lebanese militant groups’ leadership capabilities. You kill a leader and ten are ready to take his place. At least a few of those ten are actually more capable and lethal than the man whose place they take. This failure of vision isn’t surprising since it’s part of a larger failure of vision in the entire Israeli system. A failure to understand the circumstances in which the country finds itself in this region. A refusal to adapt itself to its environment. A cocksure belief that it can impose its will by force on hundreds of millions of its Arab-Muslim neighbors and their respective nations.
Colin Wright says
‘… A cocksure belief that it can impose its will by force on hundreds of millions of its Arab-Muslim neighbors and their respective nations.’
Here’s your depressing thought for the day. To date, anyway, Israel HAS imposed its will on most of its immediate neighbors.
Those Palestinians who lived in that portion of Palestine allocated to the Palestinians in 1948 most certainly have had the boot planted firmly in their faces. Egypt and Jordan have both given up and do as Israel wishes. I happen to think Israel has had a great deal to do with Syria’s reduction to a state of blood-soaked anarchy.
Ironically, it is Lebanon that is the closest thing to a potent foe Israel still faces. It’s only half Israel’s size, and it originally was the most pacific of Israel’s neighbors; but that’s changed. Now it’s the closest thing to an openly defiant neighbor Israel has left.
Someday, all will kneel before the might of Zion…
Dr. John says
“To date, anyway, Israel HAS imposed its will on most of its immediate neighbors.”
Really? Has Syria caved to Israel’s will, or has Syria descended into civil war due to internal politics?
Has Israel imposed it’s will on Iraq, Israel’s longest enemy, or has Iraq collapsed under the strain of Saddam, the US invasion, and Iranian meddling?
No Israel so far, Coli.
Was it Israel’s wish that Lebanon become a Iranian proxy?
Was it Israel’s will that Egyptian President Mubarack was ousted and replaced by the MB?
“”To date, anyway, Israel HAS imposed its will on most of its immediate neighbors.””
No, Colin. You are just talking out your hat.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Dr. John:
Really: Jordan, Egypt, Palestine (minus Hamas). All are acquiescent in Israeli hegemony. Not to mention other non-frontline states who are acquiescent like Saudi Arabia, the GUlf States, etc. And as for Syria, the only reason Israel hasn’t been able to impose its will there fully is that IRan, Russia & Hezbollah stand in its way. So Syria is the exception to the rule.
Say what??? How is Iraq an “immediate neighbor?”
Lebanon is not an Iranian proxy. That only shows your hasbarignorance. But actually Israel did create Hezbollah both literally and figuratively. Without Israel’s 1982 invasion there would have been no need or reason for Hezbollah.
True. Israel was apoplectic to lose its bought strongman. That’s why it worked diligently to destroy Morsi and bring the junta to power. Now Israel sits pretty because there is yet another kleptocratic autocrat in power there.
I wouldn’t say you’re talking out of your hat. I’d day you’re talking out of another orifice.
Paranam Kid says
Interesting artice, Richard, and I like your last 4 sentences, which are the bottom line of Israel failing to become a real part of its environment and having to battle against delegitimisation with a polity that will not survive long term.
Occupy on! says
I’m an outside viewer on the violence visited upon Arabs whose very existence impedes Israel’s whims and fantasies of a greater Israel. I’d say, however, that Israel is long past due a taste of its own medicine, as incommensurate as it is. This time, Lebanese intelligence, counter to Israel”s hallowed, crack intelligence, saved a life. I liked that. I’m a peace-nik and am ill from what Israel has created in the Middle East..
Colin Wright says
‘….a polity that will not survive long term.’
It’s at least apparently inconsistent with my previous post, but I’d agree with that. All successful conquerors have either exterminated their victims, assimilated them, or been assimilated by them. We in North America would be an example of the first, the Mongols in China are an example of the last. Spain in Latin America shows elements of all three.
Israel, however, cannot exterminate the Palestinians unless she can engineer a situation of ‘total war.’ Otherwise, it’s just not practical; demographically, her rate of killing is pathetically inadequate. She’s unwilling to assimilate the Palestinians; see any massive conversion programs underway? If she winds up being assimilated, then she’s essentially lost the fight; what was the point of Zionism if all it ends in is a massive increase in the number of Palestinians?
So in theory, Israel is doomed — in the long term. But the question is, just how long will that term be? Mongol rule of Iran went on for centuries. Russia endured the Tatar Yoke for three hundred years. Poland was ruled by her neighbors for well over a century.
To reverse course yet again, I suspect that Israel may be — albeit perhaps only semi-consciously — attempting to engineer a situation of ‘total war.’ Hence the persistent baiting of Iran. Once the great clash is underway, she will murder or expel the Palestinians wholesale. This is, after all, the template the Nazis demonstrated with the Jews themselves. As Nazis themselves admitted, the Holocaust would have been inconceivable in a time of peace, or even limited war ala 1939-1940. It was only against a background of total war that a genocidal solution could be put into practice. I think Israel is groping her way towards that realization — not that she would publically admit it if she ever did explicitly formulate such a plan.
Jeff Blankfort says
Given the state of the Palestinian “leadership,” be it the PA or Hamas, I would argue that assassinations carried out by Israel have had a disastrous effect on the struggle for justice in Palestine. The killing, through a car bomb in Lebanon in 1971 of Ghassan Kanafani, the brilliant editor of the PFLP’s Al-Hadaf journal robbed the movement of one of its intellectual giants and it was no coincidence, that the Israelis chose to leave alive the two members of Fatah’s central committee, Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas who were willing to collaborate with them.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Jeff Blankfort: It’s highly likely Arafat himself was assassinated by Israel. So claiming that that Arafat was “left alive” by Israel because he agreed to collaborate with it doesn’t make much sense. Read Ronen Bergman’s book & you will see how many times Israel attempted to assassinate him.
I’m not arguing that every assassinations has had uniform results. Some were more damaging to political/national movements than others. I’m arguing that overall the policy of assassination has failed. Yes, individual gift leaders have been murdered who might have changed the shape of history. But assassinations don’t end insurgencies. THey don’t destroy movements. They usually have the opposite effect.