Anyone who wants to learn about the Palestinian Authority's effectiveness in handling security issues relating to Hamas' military and civil arms in the West Bank should have a look at a document now being publicized on Hamas Web sites.
The authors of the document, titled "Exclusive and Unique Research: The Detention Philosophy of the Abbas-Dayton Security Apparatuses and Methods of Dealing with Them," identify themselves as Hamas prisoners held in Israel.
They note that their research is based on their own personal experience and debriefings and interviews they conducted among their fellow Hamas members in jail.
The 61-page document details the widespread efforts of Palestinian Authority groups to apprehend Hamas activists in the West Bank: surveillance, detentions, psychological warfare and interrogation methods, including temptations and torture (sometimes even to death). They also recount attempts to make them switch sides and enlist them as agents of the PA.
The period reviewed was from June 2007, when Hamas gained control of the Gaza Strip, to late September 2009. During this period, according to the authors, there were 22,000 incidents initiated by the Palestinian Authority's security forces against Hamas groups in the West Bank, both military and civilian.
They note that the research is intended first and foremost to answer Hamas' operative needs, i.e., to prepare its members to deal with the Palestinian Authority's operating methods, and fortify them ahead of time for the travails that lie ahead.
According to the descriptions in the document, not only does the PA not treat the Hamas prisoners lightly, they also mock their excessive adherence to Islam's commandments and sometimes even prohibit the prisoners from praying or reciting the Koran. On one occasion, the study relates, when one prisoner insisted on his right to pray, his interrogators mockingly told him that at the end of days, when Judgment Day comes, and he is asked about his negligence in praying and reciting the Koran, he could tell Allah that the blame does not lie with him but with the PA forces' men.
Even though the PA forces are manned by people who are Muslims by birth, write the authors of the document, they do not hesitate to denigrate the martyrs of Islam, including mocking the fundamental principles of the religion, such as praying and its belief in the end of days and a Judgment Day.
And there is more. The PA agents collaborate with Christians, such as American general Keith Dayton and his staff, who prepare them for their job and provide them with intelligence capabilities. This connection between them, they believe, is organic and therefore the authors of the Hamas document are careful to refer to them as "the Abbas-Dayton security forces."
In the same breath they also denounce the PA rule as "a Daytonian government" and its flawed political culture as "a Daytonian culture."
The latter is intended to uproot the "culture of resistance" of Hamas from the consciousness of the Palestinian public in the West Bank, and to replace it with foreign cultural values.
The Hamas document attributes great importance to the "security coordination" with Israeli intelligence apparatuses. The authors have no doubt that "the real objective of the Palestinian security forces is to strike a blow to the resistance movement in order to serve the security of the occupation."
They warn Hamas activists of the intelligence exchange between PA forces and Israeli intelligence agencies and note, for example, that frequently Hamas operatives are detained by Israeli intelligence only a few days after his release from a Palestinian Authority jail, and the Israelis confront them with details from their PA file.
The authors warn activists detained by Israel not to be misled by the sweet talk and relative pleasantness of the Israeli interrogators and the hard line approach and harsh tactics of the Palestinian interrogators who they encountered previously.
Unwillingly, they acknowledge the organization's difficult situation and write that the PA agencies' extensive operations, alongside the security coordination between it and Israel, severely damaged Hamas' military capability in the West Bank, to the point of "weakening the movement and its functioning to a considerable degree."
Their analysis and the lessons noted in this document are an important part of their efforts to overcome Hamas' dire situation in the West Bank.
This testimony coming from Hamas and attacks on the PA's functioning are decisive proof of their effectiveness. However, this activity is "dependent on something" as the authors stress, and this "something" is the presence of political connections to pave the way for the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
Should this significant "something" disappear, then the point of the PA's security forces' efforts will automatically end.
And what should we learn from what Hamas has learned? In the absence of an attempt to obtain a political arrangement, the Palestinian Authority's "reason for existing" will be eliminated and its validity and authority will expire. In the absence of a political tie, the security effort will stop.
"The culture of resistance" will finally overpower the "Daytonian culture," and the Dayton project will collapse.
There is no more serious warning for Israel.
The writer is a Middle East scholar and a former adviser to the head of the Shin Bet security service.