TainanCowboy, originally I came across the information in a Robert Fisk article. The United Press article below spells out the essential arguments, but is short on corroboration. I’ve come across other sources and info, but while everyone else is celebrating Chinese New Year I’m having a belated family Christmas, so you’ll have to forgive me for not looking it up now.
Happy New Year.
[quote=“United Press International”]
Analysis: Hamas history tied to Israel
By RICHARD SALE
UPI Terrorism Correspondent
[…]Israel and Hamas may currently be locked in deadly combat, but, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials, beginning in the late 1970s, Tel Aviv gave direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas over a period of years.
Israel “aided Hamas directly – the Israelis wanted to use it as a counterbalance to the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization),” said Tony Cordesman, Middle East analyst for the Center for Strategic Studies.
Israel’s support for Hamas “was a direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious alternative,” said a former senior CIA official.
Israel was certainly funding the group at that time. One U.S. intelligence source who asked not to be named said that not only was Hamas being funded as a “counterweight” to the PLO, Israeli aid had another purpose: “To help identify and channel towards Israeli agents Hamas members who were dangerous terrorists.”
In addition, by infiltrating Hamas, Israeli informers could only listen to debates on policy and identify Hamas members who “were dangerous hard-liners,” the official said.
In the end, as Hamas set up a very comprehensive counterintelligence system, many collaborators with Israel were weeded out and shot. Violent acts of terrorism became the central tenet, and Hamas, unlike the PLO, was unwilling to compromise in any way with Israel, refusing to acquiesce in its very existence.
But even then, some in Israel saw some benefits to be had in trying to continue to give Hamas support: “The thinking on the part of some of the right-wing Israeli establishment was that Hamas and the others, if they gained control, would refuse to have any part of the peace process and would torpedo any agreements put in place,” said a U.S. government official who asked not to be named.
“Israel would still be the only democracy in the region for the United States to deal with,” he said.
All of which disgusts some former U.S. intelligence officials.
“The thing wrong with so many Israeli operations is that they try to be too sexy,” said former CIA official Vincent Cannestraro.
According to former State Department counter-terrorism official Larry Johnson, “the Israelis are their own worst enemies when it comes to fighting terrorism.”
“The Israelis are like a guy who sets fire to his hair and then tries to put it out by hitting it with a hammer.”
“They do more to incite and sustain terrorism than curb it,” he said.
Aid to Hamas may have looked clever, “but it was hardly designed to help smooth the waters,” he said. “An operation like that gives weight to President George Bush’s remark about there being a crisis in education.”
Cordesman said that a similar attempt by Egyptian intelligence to fund Egypt’s fundamentalists had also come to grief because of “misreading of the complexities.”
An Israeli defense official was asked if Israel had given aid to Hamas said, “I am not able to answer that question. I was in Lebanon commanding a unit at the time, besides it is not my field of interest.”
Asked to confirm a report by U.S. officials that Brig. Gen. Yithaq Segev, the military governor of Gaza, had told U.S. officials he had helped fund “Islamic movements as a counterweight to the PLO and communists,” the official said he could confirm only that he believed Segev had served back in 1986.
The Israeli Embassy press office referred UPI to its Web site when asked to comment.