Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation is well-known in political and military circles. The struggle includes efforts to win the battle of wills and minds with the intelligence services of the Israeli authorities. Lately, the security services in Gaza have achieved positive results, with the discovery of spy networks and Israeli agents amongst the population.
In a recent case, a Palestinian woman was exposed after she had been spying for Israel for five years. This agent confirmed the long-held belief that Israeli intelligence recruits men and women (and even children) to betray their fellow Palestinians. According to one source, it was this woman's husband who disclosed her involvement with the Israelis, almost by accident. Although it is estimated that the number of women associated with the occupation is considerably smaller than men, experts believe that they constitute a greater threat in terms of their ability to gain access to accurate and sensitive information because Palestinian society has much respect for, and confidence in, women, so they are not usually subject to suspicion.
The use of agents is one way that the Israelis try to destroy the fabric of Palestinian society. The one bad apple corrupts everyone around it, including family members, neighbours and friends. The moral decline is not the only way that Palestinians are forced to collaborate with Israeli intelligence; all modern intelligence methods and means of advanced communication are also used. Gaza's interior ministry forces have seized special communication devices able to be linked with satellites to signal to the Israeli army when it is close to its targets. Agents are also provided with the technology to gain access to private computer networks and penetrate wired and wireless connections in order to transmit information from Gaza to the Shin Bet operations room. Shin Bet is the Israeli government's internal security agency.
The government in the Gaza Strip has declared an amnesty for Israeli agents as part of its "national campaign to combat intelligence collaboration with the enemy", which is the first of its kind in Palestine. The aim is to raise security awareness among citizens and allow potential penitents to return to the Almighty and into the arms of their people and homeland. The campaign is set to continue until 10th July.
During the invasion of Gaza last year, the Israelis planted a large number of agents in the territory to provide a "data bank", a number of whom have now been exposed. This intelligence failure has sparked a heated debate in the Israeli security establishment.
In an exclusive interview with a Palestinian Information Centre reporter, the Chairman of the Department for Political Direction and Moral Support in Gaza, Anwar Buraawi, said, "Espionage is one of the most dangerous tools used by the Israeli occupation in its military and psychological warfare against the Palestinian people, because it penetrates the wall of values and principles." He added, "The security coordination between the Palestinian Authority and the occupation authorities in the West Bank is used to justify this treason."
The female agents are, in many cases, not denounced publicly due to social caveats. Agreement is sometimes reached outside the authority of the security services through the families themselves. This, according to Hisham Maghazi, "satisfies family and community honour and dignity". The Vice Dean of Academic Affairs at the Palestinian Faculty for Security Sciences went on to explain why there are so few female agents working for the Israelis in Gaza: "The occupation needs female agents for limited tasks, especially close to the families of those involved in the resistance, and here lies the danger. The main objective of recruiting female agents is for them to be used to seduce men and drag them off to Israeli intelligence, and maybe one or two are enough to fulfil this mission." Mr. Maghazi confirmed that some of the operatives who have been identified have been dealt with in a confidential manner, in order to maintain the reputation of the family.
According to the Interior Ministry, most of the charges against female agents are related to the transfer of information to the Israeli enemy, with some relating to passing of items from one agent to another or the transfer of money. They are used for logistical rather than overtly hostile actions or sabotage.
When asked if the death penalty has been used against female agents, Mr. Maghazi said that the ministry has not prosecuted any agent yet, but he confirmed that the authorities have been trying to deal with all cases "with great wisdom", although some of the women had been killed during engagements with the security forces. He stressed that the door of repentance is still open and that the Ministry does deal with women differently. Mr. Maghazi added, "The amnesty is a great opportunity for self-examination and return to the Almighty and reconciliation with society, an opportunity that may not be repeated."