A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending July 21, 2005

Partial Truce Breaks Down, Pullbacks Face Disruption as Palestinian Warfare Escalates


15 July: 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 by clamping down a military closure, sealing them off to non-resident Israeli visitors.

This scenario is one that debkafile forecast more than a year ago as the outcome of the Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon’s disengagement plan.

Hamas has changed the rules current since February. It is now clenching its fist in the face of Israel, the Palestinian Authority and its chairman and has drawn in fellow-terrorist groups, the Fatah’s al Aqsa Brigades, the Popular Committees and the radical Palestinian Fronts.

It is only a matter of time before the anti-Abbas revolt spills over into the West Bank. The groundwork is in place in Palestinian cities. The bomb blast engineered from Tulkarm that killed 5 Israelis in Netanya last Tuesday was the beginning.

In the light of this intelligence, debkafile‘s military analysts find it hard to explain the timing chosen by prime minister Ariel Sharon, his defense minister Shaul Mofaz and chief of staff Lt. General Dan Halutz to confront the already tense Jewish communities of the Gaza Strip with a military blockade. Rather than deal with the pressing security threats posed by a Palestinian group committed to Israel’s destruction, its leaders opted for a showdown with the domestic opponents of evacuation.

After months of restrained responses to low-level violence, Israel must now gather in all its resources to fend off a combined onslaught by a broad, rearmed and regrouped front of al the Palestinian organizations, backed by the dissident elements confronting Abbas’ authority. Israeli military strategists must now take into account a war on two Palestinian fronts, the West Bank as well as the Gaza Strip.


Blair: Appeasing terrorism would be “catastrophic.”


16 July: “What we are confronting is an evil ideology,” said British prime minister Tony Blair in London Saturday, July 16. Following the London bombings which killed 55 people, Blair addressed the broader threat of Islamist terrorism as it affects Iraq and Israel in a speech to Labor’s National Policy Forum Saturday, July 16.

He accused this ideology of demanding “the elimination of Israel, the withdrawal of all westerners from Muslim states” and “the establishment of a caliphate of all Muslim nations.”

Blair warned that to appease Islamist terrorists would be a “misunderstanding of catastrophic proportions.”

The terrorist cause “is not founded on justice but belief, one whose fanaticism is such that it cannot be modified…”

If it is Iraq that motivates them, he asked, “Why is the same ideology killing Iraqis now? If the plight of the Palestinians is what motivates them, then why every time Israel and the Palestinians make progress, do they commit another atrocity?”

Terrorist groups like al Qaeda must be defeated as much by the power of argument and debate as by implementing anti-terrorism measures.


With collapse of partial Middle East ceasefire, Washington and Europe push Abbas to stop Palestinian terror offensive


16 July: The Palestinian Authority commands 60,000 security personnel, half of them armed and several security bodies. Israeli military experts say 10,000 would suffice for the task of breaking the backs of the terrorist groups if properly activated.

Chairman Mahmoud Abbas went to Gaza last Thursday to negotiate a truce for the duration of Israel’s evacuation operation in the coming weeks.

His arrival sparked an outburst of defiant Palestinian violence which he is striving to subdue. For the first time in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, the Israeli army faces a united Palestinian terrorist command of all its armed organizations covering both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Their efforts to regroup and improve their terror tactics were not disturbed by Israel or international would-be peace-makers.

This command is strategically prepared to fight simultaneously against the Palestinian Authority headed by Abbas and Israel on two fronts.

Israel’s seven months of military inaction have reduced Israel’s options:

1. Continuation of the targeted killings will cause the Palestinians to step up their terror campaign and send suicide bombers across the Green Line.

2. A large-scale Israeli ground operation in Gaza will prompt the extension of the Palestinian missile and mortar offensive from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank to target Israel’s main cities.

3. On the other hand, a halt in targeted attacks would enable the terrorist groups to claim a major tactical victory.

4. The arrival next week of US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice does not leave the Sharon government enough leeway for a serious military operation for smashing the new, heavily armed Palestinian terror machine. That is why she is coming.


Why does no one disable Hamas broadcasting station?


17 July: debkafile‘s exclusive military sources disclose that the Islamist group has no regular military communications network. Its operations chiefs use the terrorist group’s Saut al-Aqsa station to relay instructions to missile and mortar crews and other units. Palestinian Authority security forces need only overpower the station to cripple Hamas operations – a step Mahmoud Abbas has refrained from taking. So too has the IDF.

IDF and police forced back hundreds of anti-evacuation activists attempting to break through to Gush Katif through army-police lines at Kissufim checkpoint. debkafile‘s military sources report Israeli forces bracing to halt mass march of anti-disengagement protesters bent on reaching Gush Katif starting Monday, July 18 – and also possible Hamas fire against them.


Roadblocks manned by 12,000 police for Israel’s anti-evacuation march


18 July: The 100,000 protesters expected by the Yesha council organizers to join the March Monday, July 18, were denied a police permit for their demonstration. The roadblocks have been placed along 35 km to stop them entering the Gaza Strip.

They only have permission to assemble at the Israeli town of Netivot, but not to advance towards Gush Katif for their objective of marking their solidarity with the 8,500 Israelis due for evacuation next month. Their leaders say they will not be stopped. The police commissioner has cancelled all leaves until the pull-back is completed.

There were more clashes between troops and protesters Sunday night at the Kissufim checkpoint leading into the Gaza Strip.


London Terror Inquiry and its diversionary tactics


18 July: The British authorities have mounted a tremendous publicity effort to emphasize that Pakistan and Egypt are the central areas of interest in their investigation of the July 7 transport bombings that killed 55 Londoners. This is a diversionary tactic.

The British government is feeding the public with a daily dose of suggestive, diversionary data for two purposes. One is to stop the mouths of Tony Blair’s enemies and throw off their efforts to link the attacks to Britain’s involvement in Iraq alongside the United States. The other purpose is to deflect attention from the leads followed by the inquiry to the real source of the attacks.

debkafile‘s counter-terror sources add the British authorities have not traced the unused portion of the explosives and are trying to find out if they are still in Britain, stored ready for fresh terrorist attacks, or have been sent on to other parts of Europe. The two communiques claiming Qaeda responsible for the London blasts specify that Italy and Denmark are next in the terrorists’ sights. Terrorism experts deduce that the missing explosives as well as funds were destined for those countries by the same route as they reached the UK – another indication that the London attacks were not an isolated incident but like the Madrid bombings last year, part of a general al Qaeda European offensive mounted from Muslim Africa and possibly masterminded from the Middle East.

The British have no clues as to who they are. None of the intelligence experts doubt that the commander visited London to inspect and approve the bomb sites some time in 2004 or even late 2003. Surveillance teams would have followed him and taken many trips on the underground to test timetables and select routes for synchronized targeting.


debkafile reports exclusively: In the Mussayib massacre, Zarqawi wrought revenge on the Iraqi Shiite “Wolves.” The British were also deliberately targeted


18 July: in the small town of Mussayib, 40 miles south of Baghdad, 100 people died and hundreds were injured Saturday night, July 16, because al Qaeda’s Iraq chief Abu Musab al Zarqawi was bent on vengeance against the elite Shiite “Wolves” unit. This is revealed by debkafile‘s military sources. The roadside bombing that killed three British troops at al Amarna the next day was almost certainly part of the al Qaeda terror campaign against Britain.

Zarqawi had a score to settle with the Shiite “Wolves.” In the Mussayib attack, a suicide killer blew up a fuel truck at a gas station, setting the town on fire, killing a large number of members of the Iraqi elite unit and burning their vehicles before drivers and passengers could escape. The suicide bomber achieved maximum carnage by driving slowly past a convoy of the Shiite unit and detonating his charge at the entrance to the town.

The attack did not end there. A second Zarqawi squad stood by at the hospital and opened up with mortars as the dead and wounded began arriving.

According to our sources, the Jordanian terrorist was punishing the Wolves for the capture of his chief money man, Saad Ali Abbas al-Janabi, also known as Abu Imad, last week and handing him over to the Americans. Al-Janabi was in fact turned in on a tip by a Sunni source to the Americans.

British military intelligence is now checking to see if two deadly attacks on Britons just nine days after the July 7 London bombings was just a coincidence – or evidence of al Qaeda’s long reach. Saturday, July 16, three British soldiers died in an attack on their convoy north of Basra in southern Iraq. The same day, a minibus driving British tourists in the Turkish resort town of Kushadarsa south of Izmir was blown up by a package under the rear seat which was apparently detonated by remote control. A British woman and Irish woman were killed and five Britons injured.


Dangerous standoff averted between the massed anti-pullback protesters and police-military phalanx at Kfar Maimon


20 July: Despite the high drama of an imminent confrontation, debkafile‘s sources in the protest movement report that there are no plans to break through the Kfar Maimon exits Wednesday night, July 20, or risk a clash with the police and the military that could touch off a stampede among the tens of thousands of men, women and children in the encampment.

The suspense built up for three days of an imminent collision between the orange mass and the men in blue and khaki is part of a war of attrition the anti-evacuation movement is waging against government forces. New crises will be manufactured every day to wear the troops down in the less than a month remaining until 21 communities are withdrawn from the Gaza Strip.


Large mass of anti-evacuation protesters left Kfar Maimon overnight Wednesday. Police-military concentration allowed them to head north and east before dispersing quietly


21 July: Several hundred managed to steal singly into Gush Katif, although the avowed object of the three-day march to join up with the communities due for evacuation in the Gaza Strip was prevented. Several hundred more remain in Kfar Maimon for the next stage of the protest.

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