Palestinian Groups Line up against Israeli Evacuations
9 April: Prime minister Ariel Sharon ordered his defense minister Shaul Mofaz not to allow Israeli troops to fire a single shot in the face of the April 9-10 Palestinian mortar and missile barrage against Gush Katif – even to silence Palestinian firing positions. Sharon was intent on showing US President George W. Bush when he met him Monday, April 11, that while Israel exercised exemplary restraint, the Palestinians were bent on aggression. Picking up fast on their chance to operate with impunity, the Palestinians redoubled their attacks. In broad daylight and heedless of Israeli aerial surveillance, the Qassam missile and mortar crews positioned their launchers and kept on shooting at Israeli civilian and military locations in the southern Gaza Strip.
While the current round caused damage and distress but no injuries, the next round, say Israeli field commanders, will be a lot more ferocious and precise.
According to debkafile‘s military sources, all the Palestinian organizations are behind the mortar-missile onslaught together, including Mahmoud Abbas’ own Fatah. For the first time, the Gaza Strip groups are in close sync with fraternal groups on the West Bank, including a Fatah unit in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, which is linked closely to the Lebanese Hizballah.
Sunday, all the Palestinian organizations lined up in a solid front against Sharon’s Gaza evacuation plan which Abbas had endorsed when he shook Sharon’s hand on a truce at Sharm al-Sheikh in February. Calling the pull-out plan a fraudulent ruse to transform the Gaza Strip into a large, isolated prison, they vowed to resist its implementation by every means.
Our sources point out that this is the first time a wall-to-wall Palestinian front has openly avowed its intention of resuming its war of terror against Israel, starting with offensive steps to sabotage the evacuation of Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip.
IDF Ordered to Hold Fire as Palestinians Launch Fight for Philadelphi
10 April: An intelligence report reaching the Israeli military command early Sunday, April 10, disclosed that the five Palestinian teenagers who crawled across the flashpoint Philadelphi route on the Egyptian border Saturday, April 9, were each paid IS1,500 ($348) by Mussa Arafat’s Palestinian military intelligence and the Popular Resistance Committees in the Gaza Strip. It was a well-timed direct provocation to stir up trouble the day before Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon embarked on his American trip – and after. Three of the boys were killed by Israeli fire, sparking a Palestinian mortar-missile blitz Saturday night and Sunday against Gush Katif.
The two Palestinian chiefs knowingly sent the boys to certain death. The IDF recently showed the public new, automatic camera-activated measures installed along the Philadelphi route to halt smuggling from Egypt to the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian provocations are routine for almost every Sharon visit to the United States. This time, Mussa Arafat and head of preventive security Abu Shbak (long-time Palestinian terrorist mastermind for whom Abu Mazen persuaded Israel to grant an amnesty and freedom of movement between the Gaza Strip and West Bank) are intent on driving a strong message home in Washington, Jerusalem and Ramallah: whatever Sharon and the George W. Bush decide in their talks, matters are no longer in their hands. The two Palestinian terrorists are firmly in control of the Gaza Strip and what they say goes.
debkafile‘s military and intelligence sources trace the trouble-making to mid-March, when Shbak and Arafat warned Abbas and his internal security minister General Nasser Yousef that they were no longer responsible for their safety in the Gaza Strip. This act of defiance against the Palestinian Authority chairman came on top of the mutiny mounted against him by Palestinian armed groups and forces on the West Bank.
The Israeli government responded to this takeover by deciding to stay put in the strategic Philadelphi border strip. The Egyptians show no interest in taking responsibility for the border route. Israeli positions have been fortified and upgraded for the long haul with measures that enable them to fight the tunnels and hold out against simultaneous assault from the Palestinian and Egyptian sides of Rafah until reinforcements are brought up.