A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending Aug. 23, 2007

Al Qaeda Dislocates US Security Plan by Genocidal Massacre


17 Aug. This time, Al Qaeda in Iraq selected the tiny, isolated, unprotected community of some 150,000 Yazidi Kurds as victims of its barbarity. Aug. 14, within minutes, three oil tankers driven by suicide bombers had murdered at least 500 people, injured more than 1,000 and transformed an ancient indigenous Iraqi sect into a humanitarian problem.

Exchanges among al Qaeda’s adherents in Iraq 4, picked up by debkafile‘s special monitors, disclosed method behind the savagery. The jihadists had made an example of the Yazidis of Mt. Sinjar, holding them up as the first complete community they had succeeded in driving out of Iraq.

Al Qaeda timed its brutal attack for maximum disruption of the latest American operations in the framework of the US-Iraqi overall Phantom Strike offensive.

To defeat the US-led security campaign, al Qaeda appears to have opted for meting out death and destruction among large groups of civilians, to force them out of their homes and cause hundreds of thousands of displaced people to wander hither and thither in search of safety, strangling communications and generating mayhem across the country.

The war in Iraq is thus raging on two planes.

On one, coalition and Iraqi forces are launching offensive after offensive to scotch the al Qaeda-Sunni insurgent threat to Iraq’s security; on the second, al Qaeda is seeking to drive masses of terrified civilians out of their homes in chaotic flight.


US will soon start training Palestinian security officers as guards for VIPs visiting West Bank


19 Aug. The State Department in Washington announced Sunday that trainers from the Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security will begin carrying out protection exercises with Mahmoud Abbas’ Presidential Guard on the West Bank in the fall. The announcement stresses they will take place under an agreement signed Aug. 2 by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

debkafile‘s military sources report: Washington is tagging Fayyad as its favored successor to Mahmoud Abbas.

Noteworthy too is the fact that the US Statement Department is involving itself in training Palestinian security personnel for the first time. Until now, the instructors belonged to the Central Intelligence Agency or British, Jordanian and Egyptian services and worked with President Bush’s coordinator Gen. Keith Dayton.

The Presidential Guards units whom they trained at a cost of tens of millions of dollars in the past year let the side down two months ago when it came to resisting the Hamas takeover of Gaza. The Bush administration hopes the State Department will get better results.


Israel reopens two Gaza crossings for fuel, food and school gear Sunday under Palestinian fire


19 Aug. Three Qassam missiles were fired against Kerem Shalom gateway Sunday as more than 130 trucks carried milk, fruit, sugar, flour and gear for next school year.

Trucks carrying 100,000 liters of heavy fuel halted on the Israeli side of the reopened Nahal Oz crossing, which was closed by a terror alert for four days, by an argument on Palestinian side over jurisdiction.

debkafile reports that all the crossings into Gaza are constantly battered by Palestinian missiles and mortars.


Israel should halt “gestures” to Palestinians till they take effective action against terror, internal security minister


19 Aug. The minister, Avi Dichter, strongly criticized Palestinian actions at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem Sun. Aug. 19. The Fatah government in Ramallah has placed General Intelligence Chief Tawfiq Tirawi, notorious for orchestrating murderous attacks on Israelis in the 2000 Palestinian uprising, in charge of counter-terrorist operations on the West Bank, as debkafile has reported in the past.

Furthermore, the minister confirmed, only 60% of the 120 wanted terrorists amnestied by Israel kept their side of the bargain, surrendering their weapons and renouncing violence. Israel must therefore not give in to Palestinian pressure for further amnesties from pursuit. From Gaza, said Dichter, the Palestinians have launched more than 100 projectiles in the last three weeks against Israeli civilians across the border – two-thirds of them Qassam missiles, the rest mortars. Hamas is constantly building up its military strength.


Al Maliki plans to negotiate oil deals with Syria


20 Aug. The Iraqi premier, Nouri al-Maliki, arrived in the Syrian capital Monday, Aug. 20 accompanied by his oil minister, Hussein Shahristani. The Syrian army and military intelligence provided the groundwork for the neighborly visit by keeping the border with Iraq sealed for the last two weeks. Bashar Assad approved this closure out of the blue after five years of giving Iraqi insurgents and al Qaeda free rein to pump fighters, weapons, money and explosives for Iraqi insurgents across the border.

Now, Damascus has locked its border in both directions, also stemming the tide of Iraqi refugees seeking refuge from the violence after two million had made it across.

This change of policy, if Bashar Assad sticks to it, would affect his troubled relations with the Washington and holds the potential for easing the current border tensions with Israel.


Sderot parents to boycott schools over government’s failure to fortify classrooms against daily Palestinian missiles


20 Aug. The Parents Committee cite the High Court of Justice ruling last school year ordering the government to fortify every classroom within missile range of the Gaza Strip by Sept. 1 when the new school year begins. The ruling applied to the thousands of pupils of Sderot and 10 smaller Negev communities. The court found that the 15 seconds which elapse between a siren alert and a missile landing on target are not long enough to evacuate a classroom to a bomb shelter. Often too the siren doesn’t work. The government has proposed makeshift measures which the parents reject. They argue the town has been battered by Palestinian missiles for seven years, time enough for the government to put an end to the menace to life and property, fortify the town effectively or evacuate its inhabitants.


Israel’s Armed Forces Undermanned, Under-equipped for War


21 Aug. The negligence, traced to 13 years of budget slashes by one government after another, including the one headed by the defense minister himself, have shorn Israel’s armed forces of the three security capabilities essential to its survival: deterrence, early warning and victory.

debkafile‘s analysts note that, for the present, the IDF offers early warning – but not deterrence; the burning drive to prevail over the enemy was seen wanting in the Lebanon War and is missing in dealing with the plague of missile and mortar attacks from Gaza, the daily fare of the neighboring Israeli population.

Prime minister Ehud Olmert refuses to approve funding for two additional armored reservist divisions, for accelerating the development of the Iron Dome system to protect the population against short-range missiles and rockets, for fitting Israeli tanks with an extra layer of armor against anti-tank missiles, and for manufacturing the new Nimrod armored personnel carriers that would make the infantry much more maneuverable.

A long IDF operational arm for reaching inside hostile territory in such places as Iran, Syria, Lebanon, lacks trained manpower.

debkafile‘s military sources say Israel must take into account the rapid arming of the Iranian, Syrian and Hizballah armed forces financed by war budgets estimated as threefold or four times that allocated the IDF, as well as the danger of a simultaneous war flare-up on three of Israel’s borders.

Israel is falling behind because its leaders are still fixated on unrealistic prospects of peace with Palestinians and Syrians, who are subject to creeping Iranian domination.


Fighting escalates between Israel and Gaza Strip in fresh spiral


22 Aug. This week, at least 16 Palestinians were killed in Israel military responses to the waves of Palestinian missile and mortar fire buffeting the population living around Gaza. Hamas, Jihad Islami, Fatah-Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Popular Committees and al Qaeda-linked Salafi groups are all shooting missiles and mortars at Israeli communities around the clock.

Yet Israeli forces are not permitted to execute their plan to carve out a 1.5-2 km buffer strip inside the Gaza Strip to keep Palestinian assailants at bay.

A senior officer in command of the sector complained that without this buffer, Palestinians hold the initiative. debkafile‘s Palestinian sources explain that local Hamas extremists have intensified their offensive, defying guidelines laid down by their political leaders in Gaza and Damascus, in order to break out of the military, economic and financial blockade clamped down on their rule by the US, Israel, Egypt and the Europeans., Hamas’ military chiefs are driving their war with Israel to extremes. They hope for enough civilian deaths to force outside intervention for a ceasefire in hostilities. Then, Hamas can make its acceptance contingent on the reopening of the Israel-Gaza and Egyptian border crossings under their control.

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