A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending July 13, 2006

A Shadow War is also Fought against Hamas by Israeli Undercover Troops in Gaza and West Bank


8 July: Early Saturday, July 8, a second Israeli armored force backed by tanks and helicopters pushed into the Karni crossing into eastern central Gaza and advanced on Sejaya east of Gaza City. Once again Israeli troops are staying well away from densely populated town districts. As in Beit Lahiya, they are cleaning out the town fringes of armed Palestinians. On the first day, 4 Palestinians were killed, three of them Hamas gunmen.

This tactic, termed “incremental,” as dictated by the heads of government, is problematic in three ways:

1. Seeing that Israeli troops are not advancing into urban districts but keeping to the fringes, Hamas is pulling its operatives back to safe harbor in populated areas.

2. This allows Hamas to preserve its own troops while sending Jihad Islami and Popular Resistance Committees members to resist the Israeli advance as canon fodder.

3. Hamas planners infer from the Israeli tactic that there is no intention to wipe out its military strength. Therefore, the Hamas regime may come out of the clash damaged but not extinguished.

Israeli military experts refute some of these conclusions

A. Air strength is being applied to destroying Hamas fighting strength.

B. Israeli forces have not limited their offensive to incursions above ground. Special forces are operating deep behind enemy lines.Tuesday, July 4, for instance, an Israeli ambush south of Gaza City targeted and killed Thayasar Roei, liaison officer between Palestinian national security forces and Hamas.

Thursday and Friday, several second-level Hamas operatives were taken from their homes.

Israeli undercover troops are now following up with a second round of detentions of heads of the Hamas A-Dawa clerical, recruitment, education and social welfare institutions.

This overt and undercover trial of arms between Israel and Hamas is just beginning.


First Palestinian attempt to launch Qassam missiles from West Bank into Israel


9 July: Friday night, July 7, Palestinians terrorists set up launchers in Wadi Shaam north of Tulkarm and aimed two missiles at Moshav Zemer east of Hadera. One exploded on the launcher, bringing Palestinian Preventive Security forces to the scene. The missile team fled leaving a second missile primed. It was stamped “Property of Majad Brigades, the name of the Hamas intelligence branch.

Israeli intelligence investigated and discovered the two missiles were assembled locally in the West Bank town of Tulkarm: this Qassam’s range is between 6 and 8 km.


Hamas and two allied terrorist groups getting set for showdown with Israel in S. Gaza’s Rafah and Khan Younis


9 July: Whereas resistance in the north was confined to scattered RPG and anti-tank missile fire by small teams, Hamas, the Jihad Islami and the Popular Resistance Committees are preparing for a major showdown in the south. Tall earthworks to fortify the two towns against Israel attack are going up using heavy equipment impounded from local farmers and builders. Hamas is also collecting ground-air missiles to hit the Israeli helicopters targeting teams of gunmen. Many streets have been booby-trapped and mined.


Direct missile hits to two Sderot homes badly injure one man, leave several in shock early Sunday


9 July: Sunday, an Israeli air strike hit and injured a group of Palestinian gunmen near the Karni goods crossing between Gaza and Israel.

The crossing, ordered open by the Israeli government to admit essential supplies to Gaza, is repeatedly shut under Palestinian terrorist threat.

Through Saturday night, Israeli air force bombed several Palestinian terrorist sites: the Abu Rish Brigades command center in the evacuated Neve Dekalim, a group of Jihad Islami gunmen in Sejaya outside Gaza City, a bridge near Beit Hanoun in the north used by missile crews to transport Qassams to launch sites. A tank force entered the former Dugit settlement in the north.

According to IDF figures, 70 armed Palestinians have been killed in its 11-day offensive to recover the kidnapped corporal Gilead Shalit and terminate the missile blitz of southern Israel.

debkafile military sources report that Fatah-al Aqsa Brigades have taken over 30% of the missile barrage to compensate for staying out of the battles against Israeli troops.


Nineteen accused al Qaeda terrorists acquitted in Yemen “for lack of proof”


9 July: Several of the defendants accused of plotting to assassinate Westerners and blow up a hotel frequented by Americans, had Iraqi stamps on their passports. They confessed to fighting US troops in Iraq. “But this does not violate Yemenite law,” said the judge. “Islamic Shari law permits jihad against occupiers.”

debkafile: Observers link this shock judgment to president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s decision to run for re-election in September, which overrides his commitment to join the US in the fight against Islamist terrorists.


Gideon Shalit’s Abduction Was Preventable


11 July: Maj.-Gen (Ret) Giora Eiland traced the breakdown which allowed a Hamas-led squad overrun an Israeli army post on the Israeli side of the southern Gaza border, kill two soldiers and snatch Corporal Gideon Shalit on June 25, to an “operational” breakdown. Most damningly, Eilat affirmed that the corporal’s abduction could have been aborted. Eiland did not recommend dismissals.

He also omitted to asked the three searching questions that might have laid bare the root-causes of the fiasco at Kerem Shalom:

1. Was this a one-time slip-up or a part of a long-running string of lapses?

2. Was it the natural, preordained consequence of the operational directives coming down from the prime minister, the defense minister via IDF chiefs?

3. The Eiland probe should have examined the strategic concepts guiding Israel’s top commanders before and after the fall of the Kerem Shalom post.

Given the far-reaching consequences, the Israeli public is entitled to a lot more enlightenment.

The tailored facts released show a prime minister and defense minister still in a state of denial over the root-causes of the present security crisis.

The scales have fallen from many Israeli eyes in the wake of the Gilead Shalit disaster. People have begun asking hard questions. Even some of Kadima’s leading figures are looking perplexed.


Iraq‘s Civil War Spins out of US and Iraqi Government Control


11 July: Three essential facts underlie the deadly upsurge of Shiite-Sunni sectarian savagery in Baghdad this week:

1. No one, including US forces, has stepped in to halt the sweeping sectarian cleansing operation engulfing Baghdad in the last six months.

2. The most powerful military force in Baghdad today is the radical Shiite cleric Moqatada Sadr’s Mehdi Army militia. It commands 15,000-20,000 men under arms, outnumbering he government’s military and security forces’ strength in the capital.

3. In contrast, the Sunni insurgents command only a few thousand fighting men. They seek to compensate for their numerical inferiority by drawing Sunni fighters from all over Iraq – albeit with small and variable results; large-scale massacres of Shiites; and fatwas by popular Sunni clerics all Sunnis to rally for the war on their Shiite compatriots.

Last week, they persuaded Sheikh Yusuf Qardawi to publish a dispensation permitting all Sunni guerrilla fighters to join the ranks of Iraqi security forces and police for the sake of saving Sunni positions in Baghdad. Incredibly, notorious al Qaeda and Sunni insurgents are ready to join the forces pledged to hunt them down.

This upsurge of killings sent prime minister Maliki speeding to Irbil, the Kurdistan capital Monday, July 10, to plead urgently with Iraq’s Kurdish president Jalal Talibani and the Kudistani prime minister Masoud Barzani, for several thousand Kurdish peshmerga commandos, as the only force capable of saving Baghdad. He appears to have given up on an American forces coming to the rescue.

debkafile‘s Iraq sources reveal that the two Kurdish leaders were in no hurry to respond to the Iraqi prime minister’s appeal.


Iran‘s national security adviser Ali Larijani flies into Damascus Wednesday night


12 July: Larijani is also Iran’s senior nuclear negotiator. He will remain in Damascus for the duration of the crisis in line with the recently Iranian-Syrian mutual defense pact. It also links the Israeli hostage crisis to Iran’s nuclear standoff with the West.

The White House released a statement holding Syria and Iran responsible for Hizballah’s abduction of two Israeli soldiers and demanding their immediate and unconditional release.

debkafile‘s counter-terror sources report Hizballah acted on orders from Tehran to open a second front against Israel, partly to ease IDF military pressure on Hamas in the Gaza Strip – but also to complement its latest order to Hizballah to go into action against American and British forces in southern Iraq.

Our sources also report that Hizballah’s leaders are in hiding, their bases evacuated and fighting strength transferred to pre-planned places of concealment. Ahead of the abduction, Hizballah ordnance and missile stocks were transferred to the Palestinian Ahmed Jibril’s tunnel system at Naama, 30 km south of Beirut, which was built in the 1980s by East German engineers.


Israel calls up armored infantry and air force reserves


12 July: debkafile‘s military sources: Preparations for the Hizballah kidnap operation were sighted well in advance. The attack did not therefore come as a surprise. Nonetheless the a Hizballah commando unit transferred from its Baalbek base managed to penetrate 200 meters inside the northern border, lie in wait for two Israeli Hammer jeeps and blow them up. Three soldiers were killed on the spot. The two kidnapped soldiers were found missing after more than an hour, and only then did the pursuit force cross the border – too late to rescue the two hostages. Four more soldiers were killed when their tank blew up and a fifth died trying to rescue the crew.

Fighting back, Israel is now engaged on two war fronts, staging incursions into two territories its troops evacuated which have become terrorist strongholds. Hizballah has arrayed 12,000 rockets and missiles on the ready, placing Israel’s cities from Nahariya in the north to Haifa and Hadera in central Israel within range.


In northern Israel, 90 civilians injured, two killed, by dozens of Hizballah rockets Thursday. The entire region placed on a war footing


13 July: The coastal resort of Nahariya and the ancient Kabbalist town of Safed were blasted by several volleys of rockets, suffering a fatality in each town, scores of injured people and heavy damage to property. Rather than spend a second day in bomb shelters, thousands of Galileans headed south along with the tourists. Dozens of smaller towns and villages, never before attacked, came under rocket fire.

The Nahariya regional hospital moved its wards to underground, bombproof facilities. Summer schools and camps, also shops, were closed across northern Israel as well as summer camps and shops.


Israel places Lebanon under sea and land blockade


13 July: Early Thursday, July 13, Hizballah strongholds in southwestern Beirut’s Bahya district were targeted from the air after rockets plowed up Beirut international airport’s runways, closing the airport down. Israeli air strikes cut the Beirut-Damascus highway after disabling two small Lebanese air force airfields and targeting the southern suburbs of Sidon port.

Lebanese officials reported 52 civilians killed in Israeli air attacks. Hizballah TV and radio studios were bombed earlier but continue to broadcast from another place. Hizballah’s Baalbek bases near the Syrian border came under attack during the day after overnight strikes of dozens of targets across the country, including roads and bridges, cutting off the main Beirut highway to the south. Helicopters attacked the south Lebanese town of Tyre.

At a late-night meeting Wednesday, the Israeli government decided to treat the kidnap of two Israeli soldiers by Hizballah that morning as an act of war. The Lebanese government was held responsible for the attack and the return of the two kidnapped soldiers. It was therefore decided to target Lebanese infrastructure and Hizballah leaders, push Hizballah positions back from border positions and bring pressure on the Lebanese government to execute UN Security Council resolution and disarm the Hizballah. The operation has no time limit.

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