DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 19, 2006
Through all the inexorable stages of Hamas' rise to power in the Palestinian Authority, Israel's caretaker prime minister Ehud Olmert was struck with inertia. Now, at this late stage, Olmert's plan of action is as irrelevant as his rhetoric with regard to the real steps he and foreign minister Tzipi Livni have approved to cut the Hamas down to size. Those steps were not choreographed in Jerusalem but in Washington and have little chance of working. But debkafile finds it hard to see Ehud Olmert's setup, or any of his rivals, exercising the vision, courage or independence of mind for an inventive strategy to pre-empt the Hamas menace.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 14, 2006
The United States and Israel are working on ways to destabilize the Hamas-led Palestinian government, the New York Times reported Tuesday, Feb. 14. The plan is said to center largely on money and on Mahmoud Abbas playing his part.
Monday, Feb 13, Abu Mazen took the first step to bring the new plan to fruition. He took advantage of the last session of the outgoing legislative council to enact constitutional laws and approve appointments that boost his powers as president.
Tuesday, Feb. 14, the Olmert government took a complementary step.
The state prosecution filed a Supreme Court document defining Palestinians as citizens of an enemy state. This was in response to petitions to extend Israeli citizenship to the Palestinian spouses of Israeli Arabs.
The sanctions applied against Saddam Hussein proved ineffectual and the United States ultimately went to war to oust his Baath regime in Baghdad. Hamas, as its leaders say out loud, will not bow to sanctions, which makes the prospect of an Israeli military operation to unseat them more probable than the efficacy of sanctions.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 6, 2006
Hamas leaders are laying down a smoke screen of contradictory statements to lower resistance in the West and Israel to their forthcoming formation of a new Palestinian government. Their spokesmen issue reasonable-sounding statements like Mussa Abu Marzuk, who Monday, Feb. 6, promised to honor previously signed agreements, but then reversed himself with a qualifier - "only if they suit our interests."
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 1, 2006
Instead of letting litigation take its course and seeking common ground, the Olmert government deployed the toughest police anti-terror units in anti-riot mode to make an example of the unauthorized West Bank outpost of Amona on Wednesday, Feb. 1.
The brutality of the confrontation for demolishing nine houses was seen by all, hour by our, over live television. Four-fifths of the 250 injured, were protesters, many of them minors, and three parliamentarians who joined them. One-fifth of the injuries were suffered by police officers, who were pelted with stones, mud, paint-filled balloons and eggs.
Most of the injuries - head wounds and broken limbs - were inflicted by police when they stormed the barricaded houses, drove their horses against the demonstrators and laid about them with night sticks, hitting mostly 14-15-year old boys and girls and beating them to the ground.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 30, 2006
After a series of muddled statements and zigzags, wishful thinking prevailed in London and Brussels after all. The European Union, led by the Middle East Quartet, agreed to release financial aid to a Palestinian government taken over by a terrorist organization.
"We give them three months to assess the situation. We don't want chaos and we want to go on with the peace process," said EU foreign executive, Javier Solana at the end of the foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels Monday, 30 Jan.
Hamas, which is responsible for at least 60 bombing attacks on Israelis and countless deaths, did not have to fight too hard or too long for a reversal of the short-lived boycott on funding, sparked by its election victory over Fatah with 74 seats in the 132 Palestinian Legislative Council.
The Islamist terrorists were not required to give up a single principle for the sake of Western aid.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 29, 2006
A relatively junior intelligence officer has been mandated to establish why Israeli intelligence missed predicting the Islamist terrorist Hamas takeover of Palestinian government by the ballot. Does the remit given him by chief of staff Lt-Gen Dan Halutz and military intelligence director Maj-Gen Amos Yadlin give him enough scope to get to the bottom of a monumental lapse?
Hardly. His task has been limited to an internal intelligence probe rather than a broad inquiry. Within this limit, there is no way he can truly explain how Israel came to find itself face to face with a strategic calamity on the scale of the 1973 Yom Kippur War; quite simply, there are too many weighty and relevant questions he is not authorized to articulate. Here are a few:
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 23, 2006
Acting Israeli PM Olmert ducked the first major challenge of his tenure as stand-in for Ariel Sharon.
His foreign minister Tzipi Livni, who doubles as justice minister, opted out all the way. In a TV interview Sunday, Jan 22, she dumped the Hamas problem together with the other poser, the Iranian nuclear threat, in the laps of "the international community." On Hamas, minister Livni seemed to be satisfied with the Bush administration's promise to withhold recognition from a Palestinian government with Hamas participation, as delivered by senior US envoys. A similar undertaking came from the European Union's foreign policy executive Javier Solana.
The trouble is that on the Palestinian Hamas, Olmert, like the rest of Sharon's stalwarts in the government and Kadima party, are caught in a dilemma of their own making. Since they executed Israel's pull-out from the Gaza Strip, Hamas has gone from strength to strength.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 15, 2006
There is an innate contradiction between Hamas running for election in the Palestinian legislative council everywhere but Jerusalem, and Israeli permission for Palestinians to cast their ballots in Jerusalem - excluding Hamas. The spectacle of Hamas candidates and activists in Jerusalem being bundled into Israel police cars Sunday, Jan. 15, after the Olmert cabinet's first substantial decision, will only enhance the Islamist terrorists' already rosy prospects in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
debkafile's political sources reveal that Olmert in fact picked up and ran with the last significant policy line Ariel Sharon laid down before he was struck by a massive stroke on Jan. 4. It evolved through secret diplomacy in full accord with the Bush administration.
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DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 8, 2006
Hamas campaigners, confident of a strong showing in the Jan 25 elections for the Palestinian legislative council, announced in Gaza City Sunday, Jan. 8, that, if elected, they will put an end to any Palestinian talks with Israel. Negotiations with the Zionist entity will only take place through the barrel of a gun, said the man topping the Hamas list, Ismail Haniya.
Hamas Gaza leader Mahmoud al-Zahar dismissed European threats to cut off funds if the terrorist group enters Palestinian government. If they do, he said, "We have our sources in the Arab and Muslim world." None of the West Bank local councils captured by Hamas is short of funds, he boasted.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 28, 2005
On Dec. 17, debkafile reported exclusively:
A special Iranian plane flew Palestinian Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal to Revolutionary Guards HQ at Bandar Abbas Monday, Dec. 12, after he spent 10 days in Tehran as favored guest of Iran's clerical rulers. There, he conferred with RG commanders on operational collaboration between the two Palestinian groups, Hamas and Jihad Islami in Gaza and the West Bank, and their hook-up with Iranian networks and Hizballah in Lebanon. Their shared goal: the opening of a second rocket and shelling front against northern Israel to complement the Gaza front in the south.
This decision was implemented ten days later, Tuesday night Dec, 27, with a bombardment from southern Lebanon of Israel's western Galilee and the northern towns of Kiryat Shemona and Shlomi.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 27, 2005
Thousands of copies of this photo, which was secreted from Ashkelon's Hadarim prison, were eagerly seized by ordinary Palestinians on the West Bank for whom Marwan Barghouti is something of an icon. The Fatah leader, jailed for life for the murder of five Israelis in terrorist operations, appears on the left. With him is another lifer, Samir Kuntar, a Druze from the Lebanese village of Baaklin, who is serving time for the 1979 Nahariya bloodbath.
In all his years behind bars, the Lebanese killer never showed the slightest remorse for his crime. His importance is such that Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah never misses a chance of raising his case.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 25, 2005
The Palestinians have smuggled in from Sinai to the Gaza Strip what military sources have told debkafile' is "a monstrous amount" of high explosives, to improve the precision and effectiveness of the Qassam missiles fired across the border against Israeli towns and villages.
Our sources reveal the new, lethal explosives come from military production factories in Slovakia and Serbia.
Palestinian workshops working around the clock to fit the military-grade TNT and Semtex on their Qassam missiles in place of the home-made, hit-or-miss warheads. These workshops have not been bombed by the Israeli air force for some weeks. The powerfully upgraded Qassam missiles with boosted destructive capabilities are therefore expected to start flying shortly
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 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 27, 2005
Marwan Barghouthi's win in the ruling Fatah's primary vote in Ramallah Saturday Nov. 28, was no surprise. It was carefully scripted by the trio straining to hold the Palestinian Authority from falling apart, Mahmoud Abbas, Mohammed Dahlan and Barghouthi himself. The plan is to place the Fatah firebrand, who is serving multiple life terms for his involvement in the murders of at least five Israelis in terrorist attacks, at the top of the Fatah list of candidates for the Jan. 15, 2006 election to the Palestinian legislative council. Barghouthi is slated to lead the faction while between one-third and half of the Fatah list for the future Palestinian parliament consists of "activists," imprisoned in Israel for terrorist attacks.
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 23, 2005
The Syrian leadership has gathered itself in for the next shock after the UN Hariri investigation's findings drawn up by Detlev Mehlis implicated President Bashar Assad's close family circle in the assassination of Lebanese leader Rafiq Hariri last February. This Assad foursome is now locked in together in stifling proximity. Given the slightest hint that any formation of three is willing to sacrifice the fourth member to save themselves will tip the group over into a life-and-death struggle. That is the moment the Assad clan's enemies are watching and waiting for.
The situation of the Palestinian Authority's Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is no less shaky. Abbas called on the White House on Oct. 20 only to make the disturbing discovery that his refusal to crack down on the terrorists had cost him the US president's support for his leadership. Abu Mazen is therefore insisting on letting the Hamas participate in the January election as his main life belt. He is counting on the only political and military instrument left to him to force his opponents in the Fatah to keep their heads down.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 21, 2005
The Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas did not get much chance to lay down his usual list of demands and gripes in his talks at the White House with US president George W. Bush Thursday, Oct. 20. Instead, in contrast to the jovial mood of their joint news conference, Bush crushed his visitor's hopes of a Palestinian state in the foreseeable future.
According to our sources, the US president laid down a new set of rules, unfamiliar to the Palestinians. In a word, no one will help the Palestinians if they don't help themselves - and that goes for me, the US President, too. If you think you can disarm Hamas by letting them take part in elections, go ahead, but you are on your own. We think you are making a big mistake, but we don't interfere. But there is a price to pay. A regime dominated by terrorists cannot expected to be treated as a democracy.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 20, 2005
The Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas aka Abu Mazen keeps himself afloat by braggadocio. He slaps down demands and stipulations as though he has a handful of aces. In actual fact, he arrived in Washington Thursday, Oct. 20 for talks with President George W. Bush and secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, with the barest hold on Palestinian government. This week, a distinguished Palestinian researcher Khaled Duzdar voiced the gloom engulfing his people in a letter to his friends published on October 14. Under the heading "He Dances with Wolves," Duzdar asserts that Abu Mazen's appeasement of armed groups who maraud Palestinian streets night after night and prey on the innocent and each other will plunge the people in yet another calamity. Yet, after a year of administrating artificial respiration to a non-starter, Washington, Cairo, London, Brussels and Jerusalem are still not ready to give up.
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.