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Confessed "Spy" Urges Informants To Turn Themselves In

posted 5 May 2013, 10:21 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 5 May 2013, 10:21 ]

A rare visit to a Hamas jail shows a collaborator who worked for Israel calling on other informants to turn themselves in to authorities.

GAZA CITYGAZA (RECENT - APRIL 25, 2013) (REUTERS) -  Ashamed and afraid, an alleged spy buried his face in his hands inside aGaza jail as he admitted passing intelligence to Israel during its battles with Palestinian militant groups.

The confessed collaborator is the poster child of a month-long campaign by the Islamist Hamas government ruling the coastal enclave to root out informants in its midst, which the group hopes will deprive Israel of a subtle but effective weapon.

"I advise every collaborator who has not yet turned himself in to the internal security to hand himself over at the closest chance possible, it is better for him. This is all damage to our nation and our families, if not today, tomorrow they will catch him," said the 41-year-old prisoner, whose identity was concealed, from a darkened cell.

"This is all damage to our nation and our families, if not today, tomorrow they will catch him," the prisoner added, as a plainclothes Hamas security officer guided media through the prison corridor.

Human rights activists applauded the public awareness campaign for its non-violent approach but said more still needed to be done.

"We believe that such campaigns are not enough on their own, because collaboration with the occupation is not something one does with their own will, meaning a Palestinian does not do so because he wants to. He gets pressured by different means that manipulate that person," said Samir Zaqout of the Gaza-based Al Mezan Center for Human Rights.

"Also there are huge problems in our nation having to do with poverty and unemployment," he added.

Following a brief civil war with President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah in 2007, Hamasnow rules over Gaza while Abbas' Palestinian Authority governs the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

But criticism at home and abroad has mounted for what is seen as a draconian justice system.

In April, Human Rights Watch accused the Islamist Hamas government in Gaza of failing to investigate the summary executions of seven Palestinians alleged to have spied for Israel during a brief war last November.

Human Rights Watch said their convictions may have been based on evidence extracted through torture, and that an inquiry into their deaths pledged by Hamasseems not to have begun.

Hamas accused HRW of being "unprofessional," contacting them only a day before their report was published and not focusing enough on Israel.

Hamas's Internal Security Service (ISS) publicized through billboards and mosque sermons an offer to treat those who surrendered with leniency.

The unnamed prisoner was swept up in the wave of arrests after the ultimatum ended on April 11.

Hamas Interior Ministry officials said the unprecedented campaign was a policy shift on its part, meant to bring wayward citizens back into the fold and counter through persuasion espionage it says Israel gains through manipulation.

"This campaign has many procedures and titles. It does not stop at the security procedures. The security procedures are the specialty of the security forces that work around the clock. There is media and educational procedures for the Palestinian people, to be aware of the methods used to turn people to collaborate, or how to deal with this type of communication by the Israeli occupier side. There is also the legal issues, and the non-governmental institutes play a big part in that role. We have carried out many educational campaigns at universities, schools targeting all sects of the Palestinian society," said Mohammed Lafi, Deputy Director of the ISS.

Interior Minister Fathi Hammad said Hamas's new policy aimed to emphasize that spying was an individual act and asked for support for the families involved.

"As a Palestinian community, we should all support, follow up and embrace the family whose household fell to the devil," Hammad told Reuters.

Israel regularly employs Palestinian agents to scope out targets and militant personnel for air strikes, which often kill civilians.

Collaboration with Israel is generally reviled by Palestinians, who regard suspected spies as traitors to their people and ostracize their entire families.