MI6 'drew up plan to crush Hamas' in 2004

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British intelligence advised the Palestinian Authority to crush Hamas and other violent groups in the West Bank by detaining some of their leading figures, leaked documents have shown.

In an effort to restore peace during the Second Palestinian Intifada against Israel, MI6 drew up a strategy in 2004 to help Yasser Arafat's security forces neutralise "rejectionists" opposed to a Middle East peace deal.

Two strategy papers recommended "the detention of key middle-ranking officers" from Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the Al Aqsa Brigades, groups that had mounted a campaign of suicide bombings and rocket attacks against Israel.

"We could also explore the temporary internment of leading Hamas and PIJ figures, making sure they are well treated," the author of one of the documents writes.

Both papers were included in a batch of 1,600 secret Palestinian files leaked to the Al Jazeera television station, the latest tranche of which were released last night.

At the time the MI6 papers were written, the United States had stopped funding the Palestinian security forces in protest at Arafat's failure to stop the violence....

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