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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 September 2005, 19:54 GMT 20:54 UK
Hamas unmasks its top commanders
Hamas fighters
Hamas has previously kept the identities of its leaders secret
The Palestinian militant group Hamas has for the first time made details of its top military commanders public.

The organisation published pictures of and interviews with seven commanders, giving their names, rank and role, on its website and in a newspaper.

Hamas has previously kept such details secret, amid the threat of assassinations by Israel.

Correspondents say the move is part of an effort by Hamas to claim credit for Israel's withdrawal from Gaza.

Hamas has carried out scores of suicide bombings and other attacks against Israel since the 1990s, while dozens of its fighters and leaders have been killed by the Israeli military.


Each of the seven appears with a biography, stating his rank, how long he has spent in Israeli jails and how many times he has escaped assassination attempts.

Mohammed Deif: Number one
Ahmad al-Jabari: Deif deputy
Marwan Isa: Central Gaza Strip
Raed Saad: Gaza City
Ahmed Ghaldour: Northern Gaza Strip
Mohammed Abu Shamala: Southern Gaza Strip
Mohammed al-Sanwar: Khan Yunis

Among those identified are the commanders for the southern Gaza Strip, named as Mohammed Abu Shamala, 31, and for the north of the territory, Ahmed Ghaldour, 38.

Ahmed Ghaldour is quoted as saying "The next period [after Israel's withdrawal] will be difficult. We have to be strong and wait... There may be quiet days. We need more and more training."

Hamas' military commander in Gaza City, named as Raed Saad, 33, sounded a note of defiance after the Palestinian Authority warned it would not permit armed groups to operate in areas evacuated by Israel.

"These groups will stay to protect our borders because we are not safe from the Zionist enemy. This enemy might return again after the withdrawal," a statement quoted him as saying.

Mohammed Deif, Israel's most wanted fugitive for years, appears at the top of Hamas' list.

Last week Hamas released a video of the fugitive bomb-maker, in which he taunted Israel over its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

The BBC's Alan Johnston in Gaza says Hamas argues its attacks succeeded in driving the Israelis out of Gaza and it sees the withdrawal as a major propaganda coup.

He says the group's decision to name its senior military figures is part of its effort to gain credit for what it sees as an Israeli defeat.

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