DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 21, 2005
Palestinian terror planners are now sending their Qassam missiles after big game: the important port-town of Ashkelon, which lies ten kilometers from the northern tip of the Gaza Strip, where the ruins of the evacuated Israeli locations of Dugit, Elei Sinai and Nisanit have been turned into handy launching sites.
Yet on Wednesday, Dec. 21, prime minister Ariel Sharon, in his first security consultation after leaving hospital, decided that diplomacy would keep Ashkelon safe from Palestinian target practice and that effective military measures could wait.
The same thinking apparently extends to the two al Qaeda cells, one sent by Abu Musab al Zarqawi in person, which took up positioning the Gaza Strip after Israel's pull-out.
Barring a change in these circumstances, Ashkelon appears doomed to suffer the same fate as battered Sderot - if not worse. The question is which Israeli city is next?
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 19, 2005
Since early December, a branch of Abu Musab al Zarqawi's al Qaeda in Iraq has been running a forward base in Gaza City preparatory to in-depth attacks in Israel, according to debkafile's exclusive counter-terror sources. It joins the Al Qaeda-Palestine cell established some weeks ago in the Gaza Strip.
A high-ranking Israeli army officer confided to us: "For years, we fought al Qaeda in unpublicized encounters in remote places far from our borders. Now we have to admit they are here, on our very threshold." The officer went on to warn: "The conjunction of al Qaeda and Palestinian terrorist structures confronts Israel with a grave strategic threat."
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 5, 2005
The Palestinian Jihad Islami suicide bombing that left 5 Israelis dead and 55 injured outside Netanya's Sharon shopping mall caught the Sharon government and Israel's security chiefs by surprise. debkafile's exclusive sources reveal that Israeli security forces guided by the Shin Beit believed they had wiped out a dangerous Jihad Islami cell in Jenin in weeks of raids and roundups. However, they missed one last bomb team, a dispatcher and a suicide bomber equipped with a explosive device, who eluded the dragnet. Netanya was therefore not alerted to the danger and the local police were just carrying out routine patrols.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 22, 2005
This was the first time the Hizballah had sent a specially-trained motorbike commando unit into action. Its mission was to kidnap Israeli soldiers and bring them to Beirut for a macabre display in Lebanon's Independence Day ceremonies Tuesday, Nov. 22. This was to be an act of defiance against Israel and more particularly the anti-Syrian government. The Lebanese prime minister would not dare send troops against him to free the Israelis - even though their abduction was a brazen contravention of international law. He and his government would then be dismissed by the Lebanese people and the Arab world as nonentities.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 21, 2005
Israel's creaking, turgid political system is breaking up and on the move. The decades-old Likud and Labor parties which have dominated all the national governments are crumbling. Furthermore, the "right' and "left" epithets, always imprecise and simplistic, are losing any significance.
Ariel Sharon's breakaway from Likud, an alliance of parties he himself forged 32 years ago, is the latest symptom of the disintegration. Sharon's new Party of National Responsibility is engaged in a mighty tug-o'-war with Likud over ministers, Knesset ministers and members of party institutions, who are being pulled two ways.
The first meeting of his new list, attended by 12 MKs, he promised to follow the Middle East road map, wage a relentless war on terror and refrain from further disengagements.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 6, 2005
As the 10th anniversary memorial ceremonies for the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin go into high gear, more people are asking how a lone killer, the ultranationalist Yigael Amir, was able to get close enough to the heavily-guarded prime minister to shoot him in the back as he left a Tel Aviv peace rally. And if there was a conspiracy, what was the motive behind it?
The spreading skepticism about the obvious answers persuaded Dror Yitzhaki, the former head of the Shin Beit internal security services' bodyguard detail on duty at the time, to break the long silence he maintained from the time of his resignation.
Fatah Is Deeply Implicated in the Palestinian Terrorist Coalition. Egyptian Military Collaboration Is Also Present
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 31, 2005
The major battle fought through Sunday night, Oct. 30, against a Jihad Islami cell in Qabatiya, near Jenin, only partially addressed the Palestinian terror threat creeping in from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank. The al Aqsa Brigades, a wing of Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas' ruling Fatah, either led or took active part in all the terrorist strikes of late. Yet the Israeli army was not sent into action against Fatah - only later against the Jihad Islami cell that ordered the Hadera attack.
What is more, picked up with the three Palestinian "engineers" was an Egyptian "guide," familiar enough with the southern Israeli Negev region to shepherd them to Mitzpe Ramon, where they were intercepted by Israeli security police.
This discovery floored Israeli security experts who would have expected Palestinians to guide Egyptians inside Israel - not the reverse. They were appalled to find an Egyptian terrorist cell supporting al Qaeda and Palestinians operations in Sinai had planted a tentacle deep inside Israel's southern and central Negev
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 16, 2005
The Palestinian Authority put on a totally unreal show Sunday, Oct 16, when its spokesmen claimed to have actually prevented 17 attacks against Israelis during its first month of self-rule in the Gaza Strip. The PA asked Israel not to prevent the radical Hamas from taking part in the Palestinian Legislative Council elections next January, lest this serve to strengthen the radical Islamist movement. "Leave it to us," said Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Ereket.
The truth is that Abu Mazen's government's is no more capable of preventing attacks in the Gaza Strip than it is of handling Hamas. This was frankly brought out by the deeply worried Palestinian police chief Gen. Ala Husseini when he addressed a closed meeting of Palestinian police and security commanders Wednesday, October 12.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 6, 2005
Lawrence A. Franklin, 58, former top Pentagon analyst, pleaded guilty to three felony counts as part of a plea bargain. During the plea hearing before US District Judge T.S. Ellis, in Alexandria, Va., he admitted to leaking classified information to two members of the pro-Israeli lobbying group American Israeli Public Affairs Committee - AIPAC out of frustration with government policy. He had hoped the two men, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman - since fired from AIPAC - would pass the information on to contacts of theirs on the National Security Council and possibly get the policy changed.
The exchange in the Alexandria court pointed to undisclosed information that could bring additional Israelis into the case.
Regarding the information he passed to Naor Gilon, political officer at the Israel embassy in Washington, the former Pentagon official insisted: "I knew in my heart that his government had this information. He gave me far more information than I gave him."
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 1, 2005
Israel and Greece are about to sign a strategic pact. It will cover arms transactions worth hundreds of millions of dollars, joint military exercises and cooperation in combating terrorism. Greece is now keen on modernizing its army and turning it round to cope with Islamic terror on its borders instead of the former Turkish threat.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 28, 2005
Fresh fuel for a future conflagration is piling up with the movement of 1,200-1,500 Palestinian terrorists from the most radical organizations, exported by Syrian intelligence from the refugee camps around Damascus since last Friday, Sept 23, to two focal points in Lebanon: the Beqaa Valley and Sidon on the southern coast.
Revealing this, debkafile's intelligence sources report the Assad regime's motives are double: first, to pre-empt Mahmoud Abbas' takeover of the Palestinian refugee camps and militias of southern Lebanon and, second, to get them out of Damascus and into Lebanon, whence they will be sent on to Sinai by sea. There, they can join the uncontrolled traffic heading into the Gaza Strip, to form a pro-Syrian Palestinian terrorist force or militia in the evacuated territory.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 27, 2005
Israeli prime minister Aril Sharon's victory over his longtime rival and predecessor Binyamin Netanyahu is unquestioned, notwithstanding its narrow margin - 104 out of a nearly 3,000 ruling Likud central committee members. In 1996, Netanyahu wrested the premiership from Labor's Shimon Peres by a few thousand, but even an edge of one vote counts as a win.
But Sharon's triumph does not prove that the right-of-center party has embraced his guiding principles, as his spokesmen are claiming. The losing side led by Netanyahu and the anti-evacuation rebel leader MK Uzi Landau did after all garner very close to 50% of the vote, nearly doubling the Likud anti-evacuation rebels' strength. The rift cutting through the heart of Sharon's party since last year when he first broached his disengagement plan is more unbridgeable than ever.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 24, 2005
The Palestinian-Israel war has blown up in force five weeks after Israel evacuated all its civilians from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank - 12 days after pulling its troops out of Gaza and one day after they exited the northern West Bank - as though nothing had changed.
The scenario was not unexpected; it was plotted by Palestinian terror chiefs.
It began when Israel failed to fight off Palestinian attacks in the course of the evacuations. That operation was plagued by shooting attacks, roadside bombs, Qassam missiles and grenade attacks on troops pulling out of the Philadelphi border route. Israel's defense minister and generals promised "zero tolerance" for Palestinian attacks - but sat on their hands.
There is no explanation of why Israel omitted to make Egypt's liquidation of the lethal stocks a condition for handing over the Philadelphi route to Egyptian border police?
Up to this minute, the border remains wide open for the free passage of terrorists and smugglers.
According to debkafile's military sources, this open door enabled the Hamas and Jihad Islami to beef up their manpower and weapons resources by one third. Incredibly, the Palestinian Authority purchased some of the smuggled goods.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 19, 2005
Even before he set out for home Monday, Sept. 19, Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon charged into combative mode against his political adversaries, using a New York meeting with Jewish leaders as his platform. He declared he had lost the majority of the party he founded because of the "lies and terrible incitement of a minority which opposed the Gaza evacuations."
The heating up of the race between Sharon and Netanyahu may even help Landau run off with the party chairmanship and prime ministerial candidacy in the Likud primaries.
He is the quintessential Mr. Clean, a rare asset that may attract the general voter even more than his being vindicated in his dire prophecies of a breakdown in national security.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 17, 2005
The list obtained by debkafile's exclusive military and intelligence sources, contains -
1. 3,000 automatic rifles. The new supply, most of which is destined for Hamas, gives the organization a total of 10,000 Kalashnikovs, enough for thousands of new recruits.
2. Hundreds of AT-23 Sagger anti-tank missiles.
3. SAM-14 Strela anti-air missiles - quantity unknown.
debkafile's sources can reveal how and where they are getting their lethal merchandise. Iranian and Hizballah agents - as well as al Qaeda buyers - are using their contacts with local gangs of arms traffickers in Serbia, Slovakia, Montenegro, Croatia and Kosovo, to fill Palestinian stores with new weaponry.
The Palestinian Authority's security personnel and Egyptian border police are turning a blind eye to the flow of the tools of war across the border.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 14, 2005
The sights and scenes in Gaza Strip immediately after the Israeli troop pullback Monday, Sept 12, filled Israel's defense leaders with dread. Total loss of control was manifested by the Palestinian Authority and the Egyptian border police, who stood by as tens of thousands of Palestinians indulged in a wild orgy of destruction, burning, looting and hurling themselves back and forth across the Gazan-Egyptian border unchecked.
Long months of painstaking negotiations with Egypt, the Palestinians and the United States for coordination on post-evacuation security were trampled underfoot. IDF sources estimated Tuesday night, Sept 13, that in two days, about 20,000 Palestinians had flocked into Egyptian Sinai from the Gaza Strip - most intending to stay there - and 3,000 Palestinians had crossed into the Gaza Strip.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 11, 2005
The most intriguing question is what led Shaul Mofaz to raise the flag of mutiny against the prime minister. For eighteen months, his obedience has been almost machinelike. He activated the army against Israeli civilians for the first time in its history, lent a hand to the purging of the high command and tied the hands of military intelligence, lest they obstruct Sharon's disengagement plans for Gaza Strip.
He claims truthfully that his observant religious background held him back from sending Jews to destroy synagogues. But looking beyond this claim, debkafile's analysts find a more likely cause: he felt his loyalty had been rewarded with a kick in the teeth when Sharon last week abruptly snatched security responsibility for the Gaza Strip from the defense ministry and handed it to vice prime minister, Labor leader Shimon Peres.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 7, 2005
The assassination of Moussa Arafat was obviously well-planned and carefully staged. According to debkafile's counter-terror sources, the crime bears the hallmark of Palestinian minister for civilian affairs Mohammed Dahlan and his sidekick, Gaza preventive security chief Rashid Abu Shebak, two would-be Gaza strongmen who are no strangers to violence. Suspicion is strong that they contracted the Popular Committees' Salahedin Brigades for the slaying.
Scores of armed men dragged the former Palestinian military intelligence chief and head of national security forces in the Gaza Strip from his home, shot him dead and abducted his son Manhal. The fact that a large band of armed men was allowed to pump 23 bullets into Arafat's body - whereas none of his bodyguards suffered a scratch - bespeaks betrayal and conspiracy.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 30, 2005
US president George W. Bush, Ariel Sharon and Mahmoud Abbas are certain the Israeli government did the right thing in uprooting Israel's civilian presence from the Gaza Strip ahead of the final pullback of troops on Sept. 15.
But their gratification is likely to be short-circuited. The level of Palestinian terror is climbing day by day, and the first post-evacuation suicide attack has already taken place in Beersheba. Israeli troops are still in Gaza demolishing Israeli homes and dismantling their installations - and already they are targeted by the gunmen of the first outside Palestinian terror group to arrive from Lebanon.
Palestinian violence will fuel Netanyahu's chances of toppling Sharon - unless the government shows it can fight back.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 27, 2005
Failing a government or Knesset veto of the still unsigned Israel-Egyptian military protocol, the Sharon government will make Egypt two if not three strategic gifts: naval control over the territorial waters off the Gaza Mediterranean coast up to Ashekelon, for one. A second unpublished clause will place within range of Egyptian air force surveillance Israel's big air forces bases in the Negev and its armored and ground forces' deployment around the evacuated Gaza Strip.
These clauses have been withheld from the public, cabinet ministers and Knesset members. Sunday, August 27, the cabinet will be asked to approve the protocol; the Knesset's ratification will be sought Wednesday, August 31.
These sweeping Israeli concessions are set forth in a secret appendix to the military protocol. They are the price prime minister Ariel Sharon and defense minister Shaul Mofaz are willing to pay Cairo for relieving the Israeli army's of its security missions on the Gaza-Egyptian border.