Hamas politburo Khaled Mashel declared his organization would not renew the informal ceasefire after end of 2005
9 December: Addressing a rally at the Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus, the top Hamas leader declared “I say to our brothers that we will not enter a new truce and our people are preparing for a new round of conflict.”
Mashel issues orders to the Palestinian Islamist group from his Damascus headquarters. The most senior Hamas figure since Sheikh Yassin’s death, he
was to have attended a fresh round of ceasefire talks in Cairo two weeks ago. It was postponed because of the deteriorating security situation in the Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian Authority did nothing to stop terrorists excavating a new “bomb tunnel” running from the Gaza Strip into Israel – despite repeated submissions from Israel
10 December: IDF brigade commander Col. Muni Katz disclosed Saturday, Dec.10, that the tunnel 4 m deep and 40 m long runs from a rubbish dump in the N. Gazan town of Beit Hanoun under the Erez border crossing and several hundred meters inside Israel. It comes out very near Kibbutz Erez and Moshav Netiv HaAsara and appeared ready for use by bombers against Israeli targets. It was discovered while work was in progress and the PA asked to stop the excavation. They ignored the request. The Israeli officer assumes this tunnel is one of several ready to smuggle Palestinian terrorists, explosives and weapons to the Israeli side of the border thanks to PA inaction. It will be blown up after careful study.
Egypt‘s navy and air force go on high alert in the Suez Canal Saturday after being warned of an al Qaeda plan to attacking shipping
10 December: Ports and installations have been placed on guard.
debkafile revealed November that the al Qaeda Sinai cell is extending its reach west from the central mountains to the eastern Suez shore and northeast to Gaza. The warning covers combined attacks by land-based missiles or mortars and fast, explosives-laden boats.
Assad threatened the world as Mehlis submits his final report on the Hariri assassination to Kof Annan on Dec. 11.
11 December: In a special interview to the Russian TV station Rossiya, the Syrian president declared the Middle East and the whole world would suffer if Syria were subjected to UN sanctions.
debkafile reports from its exclusive sources disclose that the US and France have jointly prepared the following plan of action to be pursued at the United Nations:
1. France has drafted a seven-point Security Council resolution voicing deep concern over Syria’s failure to fully cooperate with the UN inquiry in accordance with resolution 1636. The Hariri assassination is defined for the first time as an act of terror, a short step towards holding Damascus guilty of terrorism.
2. The US requests the inclusion in the draft of the phrase: “Syria has for the second time violated Security Council resolution 1636. Personal sanctions are proposed for the Syrian officers suspected by the UN panel of complicity in the Hariri murder plot, including a ban on travel and freeze on their overseas assets.
According to our sources, those two steps will be followed by three more:
– International arrest warrants against Syrian suspects and possibly an international court.
– Subpoenas to additional Syrian officers for questioning at UN headquarters in Vienna
debkafile‘s sources add that Assad’s threatening stance is a symptom of his desperation after discovering that he can no longer count on a Russian veto vote against sanctions. The Syrian leader has also been let down by the Saudis.
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called on the Islamic world Monday to be more active in backing the Palestinians
13 December: debkafile adds: Welcoming Khaled Meshaal, politburo chief of the Palestinian Hamas, the Iranian president stressed the Palestinian issue is the divine responsibility of the entire Islamic Ummah regardless of geography. Armed resistance (codeword for terror) was the key to victory.
Meshaal remarked: “US policies have failed in dealing with regional problems and most obviously Iraq.” A wave of opposition has arisen against US policies in the region, Asia and Europe, he declared. The Hamas leader reiterated the Hamas commitment to “liberate all the occupied lands” including Jerusalem and praised the Islamic Republic’s positions on the “usurper regime of Israel.”
In an apparent gesture of support, two Israeli Air Force F-16 fighter-bombers performed low passes over the mass funeral in Beirut of publisher-lawmaker Gebran Tueini Wednesday
14 December: Angry crowds hurled abuse at Syrian leaders whom they held responsible for the car bombing-murder of the outspoken anti-Syrian Tueini in E. Beirut Tuesday. debkafile‘s Lebanese sources also reveal that Wednesday three roadside bombs were found planted on the road to the Druze leader Walid Jumblatt’s headquarters in the Chouf mountains, raising fears for his life.
Jumblatt, who was the first to bluntly accuse Syria of assassinating Tueini and several other Lebanese politicians, was forced to appeal to the Hizballah for protection against Syrian reprisals.
Storm of criticism on right and left wings of Israeli politics greets the statement attributed by pollster Kalman Gayer to prime minister Ariel Sharon in Newsweek
14 December: Sharon is quoted as favoring a Palestinian state on 90pc of the West Bank and a compromise on Jerusalem. In the meantime, he would “lay the contours of an agreement with the Palestinians” by creating a Palestinian state on 50pc of the West Bank. Sharon’s office denied these statements. However, former Labor MK Haim Ramon who crossed the floor to Sharon’s new Kadima party spoke later in favor of partitioning Jerusalem by excluding Arab neighborhoods.
Hoped-for Big Sunni Turnout Will Mark Iraq’s Election a Success
14 December: For the first since the US-led invasion of March 2003, post-Saddam Iraq stands on the threshold of a genuine tipping point. While Iraq’s feet are treading the road to democracy as a nation, little has improved in the lives of Iraqis as individuals. The level of terrorist violence is higher than ever, Shiite-Sunni rivalries are acute; hundreds of cases of abuses have been uncovered in at least two detention centers under the aegis of the Shiite-led interior ministry.
The massive deployment of many thousands of Iranian sleeper cells across Iraq provides a sinister backdrop to overt events in Iraq. Despite all these tribulations, debkafile points to some hopeful signs.
1. The expected Sunni Muslim voter turnout is the brightest prospect. They have come to acknowledge that their earlier boycotts cost them missed chances. Now they are going after a solid Sunni share in the institutions that govern the country.
2. The National Reconciliation Conference that took place in Cairo in October at the initiative of the Arab League and behind-the-scenes US blessing, opened up a quiet diplomatic channel for American diplomats in Iraq led by ambassador Khalilzad to talk with a group of Iraqi Baathist Sunni insurgent leaders.
debkafile‘s sources in Iraq reveal the gist of Sunni position as it emerged from those talks:
A. We are not fighting simply for the sake of spilling blood. We will give up on bloody violence if we are convinced that the occupation will come to an end.
B. We do not claim exclusivity in representing the Sunni Arab interest and are prepared to work with fellow Sunni groupings on equal terms.
C. We accept a multi-communal, multi-partisan regime in Iraq.
Our sources report that the important Islamic Front for Iraqi Resistance – JAME – issued new guidelines. One calls on JAME members to break off ties with Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s followers, namely al Qaeda; another, with an eye to the future, orders adherents to desist from attacks on infrastructure and national resources such as oilfields and pipelines.
Fatah radicals stage revolt against leader Mahmoud Abbas
15 December: debkafile reports: Minutes before the Wednesday Dec. 14 midnight deadline for registering candidacy in the Palestinian parliamentary election, jailed terrorist Marwan Barghouti submitted a separate list Al-Mustagbal (The Future). His slate carried a member of Abu Mazen’s cabinet Mohammed Dahlan and the PA national security adviser Jibril Rajoub.
Barghouti, serving life for five Israeli deaths in terrorist operations, represented the Fatah radical wing including Tanzim and the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terrorists in rejecting the list of candidates drawn up by Abbas. The PA chairman dropped elected candidates in favor of non-elected veteran cronies, many of whom are accused of corruption. They included the unpopular prime minister Ahmed Qureia and Nabil Shaath.
Salem Fayyad, who resigned as PA finance minister to stand for parliament, leads a roster of pragmatists such as Hanan Ashrawi and Yasser Abd Rabbu, who signed the Geneva Accords with Israel’s Yossi Bailin.
debkafile‘s Palestinian sources expect the Fatah fragments to confer on closing ranks for the mid-January election as a split in the ruling party will further strengthen the main opposition Hamas’s bid for a 40% majority in the legislature. Barghouti figures twice – on the Abbas list and his own, which leaves the door open to scratch The Future.
The jihadist Hamas topped its list of candidates with Ismail Haniya, who presents a less extremist face than the real leader, the Mohammad a-Zahar, who twice a day demands Israel’s destruction. In contrast to Fatah, put together a strong, street-friendly list of candidates, composed of academics, university lecturers, social welfare activists, mothers of suicide bombers and jailed terrorists. Its main campaign slogan is: Hamas candidates are honest and corruption-free.
Palestinian municipal elections on the West Bank end in Hamas landslide victories in Al-Bireh, Nablus and Jenin, crushing Abu Mazen’s Fatah
15 December: debkafile reports: the Palestinian jihadist group is using its victory as a fulcrum for further offensives: Hamas is revealed by debkafile‘s counter-terror sources as orchestrating the escalating Palestinian terror campaign. Fellow terrorist groups are paid to maintain Qassam missile fire against Israel. The launch against Ashkelon was executed by the Jihad Islami. The foiled truck-bomb attack on the Jerusalem Tunnel road was the work of hirelings of Fatah-al Aqsa Brigades.
Hamas is rounding up independent candidates and paying them to run in the January general election as Hamas proxies – provided they sign a document of commitment to the “liberation” of every part of Palestine, including Israel. Hamas has further taken under its wing groups and individuals of the al Aqsa Brigades.
These inroads by Hamas, together with the breakup of his own Fatah, undermine any pretensions Mahmoud Abbas may have to represent the Palestinian people – and shake a pillar of the policies pursued by President Bush and Ariel Sharon.