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Friday, February 26, 2010

A Hamas Sheikh you can talk to?

Avi Issacharoff on Hamas Sheikh Hassan Yousef, and his son Mosab, who was a Shin Bet informer for ten years.
This is in essence the almost unimaginable story of Mosab, 32, who decided to go against everything that he had been taught by his father, family, religion and surroundings. This heavy, even heartbreaking story, is about a young Palestinian who turned his father in to the Shin Bet in order to save him from being assassinated. Mosab even used his mother by sending her to his father in hiding, allowing IDF troops to follow her to his father's location.

Sheikh Hassan Yousef released a message on Wednesday saying the article was not true. I am saddened that he has been hurt by the personal dimension of this story.

I have always believed that if there is someone in Hamas that Israel would be able to talk with, it would be Sheikh Hassan Yousef. I met him in prison in 2004 while conducting interviews with my colleague Amos Harel for our book "The Seventh War" about the second intifada. The Sheikh is an exceptional man who does not support the use of violence despite the fact that he is part of Hamas. He used to tell his son Mosab that it is important to protect even the life of a cricket in a field. The Sheikh was very interested in Israeli society and at a certain point in our acquaintance even tried to pass along calming messages to the government of Ariel Sharon.

Unfortunately, Hamas in Damascus was not like the Sheikh.
Whether or not Hassan Yousef is 'someone you can talk to,' it doesn't sound like he has the power within Hamas to change things anyway.


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