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.
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 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 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 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 17, 2005
United Nations Headquarters in New York has quietly ordered all foreign staff, especially UN Refugees Works and Relief Agency personnel, to depart the Gaza Strip by Wednesday, August 17. The world body estimates any workers remaining in Palestinian areas, especially those adjoining Gush Katif, face extreme danger after the evacuations begin first thing Wednesday morning. Most significantly, Washington reversed its 20-month ban on US diplomats' visits to the Gaza Strip to urgently dispatch a top official, US assistance secretary of state David Welch, for a surprise visit to Gaza Tuesday night. US intelligence confirms the UN estimate of the extreme security danger prevalent in the Gaza Strip. It stems from Palestinian Authority chairman Mahamoud Abbas having fallen completely under the sway of the Hamas and the Jihad Islami, which are vying with each other for first grab of evacuated Israeli properties ahead of any claim by the Palestinian Authority. Both have especially drilled guerrilla units lurking close to Gush Katif ready to pounce on their prey, each other and above all, Israeli targets.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 10, 2005
There is no doubt that Abu Mazen has done a lot better than the late Arafat who never dreamed of fulfilling so many dreams. When he spoke of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem its capital, Abbas was not talking out of his hat.
Although not a word of this has been leaked thus far, Orient House, the symbol of Palestinian Authority sovereign rule in East Jerusalem, has reopened for business for the first time in four years. In 2001, this symbol was demonstratively shut down on the orders of the first Sharon government. Now, the Palestinian leader has jumped the gun and set his brand on Jerusalem, the seat of the Israeli government, ahead of peace negotiations or any talks with Israel on the profoundly controversial Jerusalem issue.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 7, 2005
The big day for Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon is Wednesday, August 10. He will then find out if his huge gamble in pushing ahead, through thick and thin, with Israel's pull-out from the Gaza Strip and part of the northern West Bank, comes up trumps. He has staked painful concessions, national unity and personal credibility on winning a big prize, but clearly believes it is worth the candle. That prize is a US-British-French initiative for a UN Security Council resolution declaring the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip at an end. It all depends on the Quartet coordinator James Wolfensohn announce his mission a success.
But there is till one Palestinian demand that Sharon has resisted so far, upon which the entire scheme stands or falls: the Palestinians are holding out for the Gaza-West Bank corridor to be free of Israeli searches or the right to unload freight and travelers that hazard its security. Wolfensohn goes along with the Palestinian contention that Israeli authority to conduct such searches would nullify their sovereignty over the Gaza Strip and therefore not terminate the Israeli occupation
On the other hand, Israel's security chiefs, the Shin Beit's Yuval Diskin and AMAN's Maj-Gen. Aharon Zeevi, are aghast at prospect of forfeiting this vital anti-terror measure.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report July 23, 2005
Al Qaeda's first coordinated bomb attacks on London's public transport which shocked Britain on July 7 were mounted at the same time as the G8 summit in Scotland. this was the closest al Qaeda terrorists had come to key Western leaders gathered in one place. Yet, strangely enough, all those leaders lined up to consign the attack to the British arena. Al Qaeda chose its moment to devastate the Sharm paradise when the US, Britain, Egypt and Israel were immersed in an intense effort to clear away obstacles to Ariel Sharon's evacuation of Israelis from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank, and make sure it will be free of Palestinian terrorist violence. By hitting Sharm al Sheikh, Osama bin Laden hammered home to Egyptian, British, American and Israeli leaders: Just as our fighting men reached Iraq from all over the Middle East and the Muslim world, nothing will stop us pouring into the Gaza Strip from Egypt the moment Israel hands the border crossing over to the Egyptians and the Palestinians. We will then be in forward bases for fighting Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority just as we fight the Americans in Iraq.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report July 19, 2005
Hamas operatives are under orders to fire on Palestinian Authority security officers coming to arrest them and call the local people out on the street to hem them in. Monday and Tuesday, July 18-19, saw a certain slackening of Palestinian attacks on Israeli targets, compared with the preceding five days. What the terrorist leaders, led by Hamas, are keeping their powder relatively dry for is a mass Israeli target in the form of the anti-disengagement march, which was supposed to reach the Kissufim checkpoint at the entrance to the Gaza Strip Wednesday, July 20.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report July 15, 2005
The disorders of this week in and around the Gaza Strip make talk of truce and Israeli pull-backs sound surreal.
From Thursday, July 14, Palestinian terrorists have kept up a steady missile and mortar bombardment of Sderot and the moshavim and kibbutzim of southwestern Israel while challenging Palestinian security forces in bloody clashes. The violence surged with the arrival in Gaza of Mahmoud Abbas for a hopeless effort to assert control and revive the shattered truce he guaranteed last February in Sharm al Sheikh.
As he stood by helpless to halt the violence, Israeli air force helicopters revived the discontinued targeted killings of Hamas terrorist leaders, striking in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. The Israeli army and police meanwhile grappled with acts of defiance on the part of the Gaza Strip's West Bank communities destined for evacuation.