WASHINGTON (Feb. 2)
The State Department confirmed this week that it was, for the first time, including a section on the Hamas fundamentalist movement in its annual report on global terrorism.
The inclusion of Hamas in the report comes in the wake of the recent arrests in Israel of two Palestinian Americans accused of funneling money to Hamas activists, and follows weeks of controversy over Israel’s deportation of over 400 Palestinians, many of whom had ties to Hamas.
“The group’s violent activities increased dramatically during 1992,” State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Tuesday. Hamas’ activities included “increasingly lethal tactics” such as roadside explosions and car bombs, he added.
Boucher said the inclusion of Hamas was not part of any deal with the Israelis regarding the deportation issue.
The United States was instrumental in crafting a compromise with Israel this week whereby 100 of the 400 deportees would be returned almost immediately, and the terms of deportation of the others were to be shortened.
Recent reports have suggested that the Hamas movement is now being directed by leaders in the United States and Britain.
The terrorism report, scheduled to be released in late April, is a barometer of U.S. attitudes toward various movements in the Middle East and elsewhere. It includes countries as well as organizations.
INFORMATION PASSED TO U.S.
The two Palestinian Americans accused of helping to organize Hamas, both from Illinois, and a third man accused of lesser charges, have been visited by American consular officials in Israel, although Boucher said American diplomats had raised questions with the Israelis over delays in the visits.
American officials have given one of the men medicine for a heart condition.
Sen. Paul Simon (D-III.) has discussed the case of the arrested men with Israeli Ambassador Zalman Shoval.
Following the arrests, Israeli security forces have passed a considerable amount of information to American authorities, in the hope they would limit Hamas activities in the United States.
It is believed the three men will face trial in Israel, although there is a chance that the United States will ask that they be extradited.
Israel also maintains that the men established contact with the Islamic Movement in Israel proper, in addition to Islamic fundamentalists in the administered territories.
Leaders of the Islamic Movement in Israel denied those charges.
Sheik Abdullah Nimer Darwish, a leader of the movement, said that if contacts were actually made, they were without the approval of the group’s leadership.
“We have declared many times in the past that anyone who violates the law in Israel does not represent the Islamic Movement,” Darwish said.
(Contributing to this report was JTA correspondent Gil Sedan in Jerusalem.)