A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending June 15, 2006
Fatah kidnaps an American student in Nablus Saturday night
10 June: Benjamin Bright-Fishbein appeared on tape holding a Hebrew University card saying he would be killed if Israel did not release Palestinian prisoners. The abductors, al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades of Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah, held him about three hours before letting him go.
debkafile‘s military sources believe that Abu Mazen’s office leaned heavily on the military arm of his Fatah to let Bright-Fishbein go without delay. Abbas feared that the Palestinians – and his own Fatah – would be seen to be executing the first reprisal for the killing of Abu Musab al Zarqawi by US forces by kidnapping an American on the West Bank three days later.
The Popular Resistance Committees threaten first suicide attacks in Israel in revenge for the death of its leader Jemal Semadhana
10 June: He was killed Thursday night, June 8, when 4 Israeli airborne rockets hit a PRC training facility between Rafah and Khan Younis where a PRC squad was drilling for a major attack in Israel.
debkafile adds: Semadhana was recently appointed additionally commander of the new Hamas security militia. This did not interfere with the PRC launching many of the Qassam assaults on Israel, nor the ruling Hamas joining the missile offensive last week, despite its declared semi-truce.
Semadhana died with his three bodyguards. Ten people were injured.
10 June: Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal: IDF is using only 5% of its resources to stop the barrage of Qassam missiles, after 58 hit town in three days
Failed Palestinian attack on Israel’s Ben Gurion airport
10 June: Four Palestinians in a car were driven off from the passenger terminals of Israel’s international Ben Gurion airport Sunday noon
Security officials with drawn guns caught them as they were approaching the facility after storming the checkpoint at the main gate.
debkafile Exclusive: Hamas plots multi-casualty terror attack to back up Qassam offensive
11 June: debkafile‘s counter-terror sources disclose that Hamas Damascus-based leader Khaled Meshaal and Ahmed Jabari, head of the Hamas armed wing in Gaza, have compiled a multi-casualty terror plot against Israel – behind Hamas premier Ismail Haniya’s back. They calculate that even if they sustain the current massive Qassam missile barrage of Israeli civilian locations, they will not achieve a high enough Israeli death toll. The two Hamas chiefs are therefore preparing a terrorist massacre inside Israel. After achieving their score, Hamas proposes to announce that the balance of terror with Israel is restored and it is willing to revert to the semi-lull prevailing for the last 18 months until the current breach.
The Israeli PM declared Israel offers Palestinians 90% of West Bank under realignment
12 June: Speaking at the end of his talks in London, it was clear from their separate statements that the British PM Tony Blair did not buy the Olmert position on Iran or his realignment program for the West Bank – even though he offered 90% of the West Bank for a Palestinian state.
While accepting that the status quo cannot go on without a solution, Blair insisted that that the way to peace must go forward by agreement and negotiations for a final-status settlement. This view was shared by President Jacques Chirac whom Olmert called on in Paris later this week.
Will Olmert Give up Sderot too?
12 June: With the prime minister far away, the small town of Sderot is battered non-stop by Qassam missiles from the Gaza Strip one kilometer away.
The Hamas threat to turn Sderot into a ghost town is coming true.
After he returns home, Ehud Olmert will have to choose, after more than five years of neglect by one government after another, between saving Sderot by adopting the army’s recommendations – at the risk of casualties on both sides – and losing Sderot to a victorious Hamas. The latter decision would bring about the most significant Israeli withdrawal from sovereign territory since 1948 and give the terrorists who rule the Palestinians a free bite of the Israeli Negev.
The town is forcing him to decide. Sderot, with its large immigrant population and unemployment, had had enough of being used for target practice by the Palestinian terrorists running loose in the Gaza Strip. As each day goes by without an adequate Israeli military response, more people pack their possessions, lock up their houses and head north
The danger hanging over the Negev is the direct consequence of the unilateral pullback from the Gaza Strip which Ariel Sharon orchestrated last summer with Olmert’s enthusiastic help. This complicates his dilemma.
But as things stand, his realignment plan which no one he met on his European tour was ready to buy makes less and less sense. Palestinian violence and fractiousness will spread like a forest fire to the West Bank and threaten neighboring regimes. debkafile‘s Middle East sources report that Jordan’s king Abdullah warmed President George W. Bush, in the name of the Saudi monarch and the Egyptian president that US acceptance of any part of the Israeli prime minister’s realignment plan would lead to a rift between America and the pro-US Arab governments of the Middle East.
Eliminating all violence was an “impossible standard” in Iraq, said US president George Bush
13 June: “I don’t think that’s an accurate way to judge success or failure,” he said.
debkafile: This was the president’s first public admission in three years that the war in Iraq cannot vanquish the Sunni insurgent and al Qaeda forces and bring peace to Iraq.
U.S. President George W. Bush arrives in Baghdad on a surprise visit Tuesday.
13 June: The visit comes six days after a U.S. air strike killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq and formation of full Iraqi permanent cabinet.
debkafile reports from Iraq that Bush had planned to land in Baghdad shortly after the British PM Tony Blair’s surprise visit on May 22, but US intelligence was by then on Zarqawi’s trail and advised delay.
On May 26, DEBKA-Net-Weekly 255 disclosed that al Qaeda had plans to assassinate the US president in anticipation of his surprise visit to Baghdad.
Second shooting attack in 48 hours on the northern highway into Jerusalem seriously injures an Israeli civilian
13 June: The outlying suburbs have been placed on alert. The victim, employed on the security fence, was hit at the same spot that the East Jerusalem motorist Marwan Shuweiki, 36, was shot dead Sunday night by gunman who mistook him for a Jew.
As Qassam missiles continued to fly from Gaza Monday night
13 June: Monday, defense minister Amir Peretz decided to hold up a comprehensive military operation to put an end to the Palestinian missile offensive such as is recommended by the IDF high command. The blitz has intensified tenfold since the ruling Hamas vowed to turn Sderot into a ghost town.
Kofi Annan is sending a special investigator to Gaza because he does not believe Hamas capable of planting bombs at civilian sites
14 June: He therefore refused to credit the Israeli probe which ruled out Israeli ordnance as the cause of seven Palestinian deaths on Gaza beach last Friday, June 8.
Panel head Maj.-Gen Meir Klifi reported to the Knesset foreign affairs and security committee Wednesday that the Hamas ordered all shrapnel removed from the bodies of the victims. Kalifi noted that this vital evidence was made to disappear after the Palestinians were invited but refused to cooperate in the Israeli inquiry. The Israeli probe did find and remove a piece of shrapnel from one of the victims treated at the Israeli Beersheba Soroka hospital, and determined that it did not match any regulation IDF shell.
The time factor was also found to rule out Israeli culpability in the deaths; there was a time gap of at least ten to fifteen minutes between Israeli artillery or naval fire and the explosion.
The Palestinians have produced a “foreign expert” who claims that the shrapnel found in the victims’ bodies belonged to a 122mm artillery shell.
Cooperation between US, Israel, Palestinian Authority and Egyptian intelligence raised the suspicion that the blast was caused by a daisy chain traps Hamas planted on the Gaza beach in case of an Israeli amphibious raid to hit Qassam missile launchers in northern Gaza. The theory gaining ground is that the Palestinian picnickers had the bad luck to detonate one of those bombs.
The day after the mishap, Saturday, dozens of people were sighted combing the scene of the blast and removing the bombs.
debkafile reports that Hamas military arm defies PM Ismail Haniya’s order to halt direct missile fire against Israel
15 June: Regarding the five-missile salvo fired Thursday, debkafile‘s sources note that Hamas’s military wing also supplies weapons and logistical assistance for allied Palestinian terrorist groups, such as Jihad Islami, the Popular Resistance Committees and the Fatah al Aqsa Brigades, to sustain their missile offensive against Israel. This assistance was not barred by the Hamas prime minister who does not want the attacks interrupted.
Iraqi PM is preparing major announcement of full amnesty to all Iraqi armed groups which lay down arms
15 June: This offer was agreed in Nouri al-Mailiki’s talks with US president George W. Bush in Baghdad Tuesday, June 13. Some of the smaller guerrilla groups are already committed to the deal.
debkafile reports from Baghdad: Iraqi national security adviser Mowaffaq al-Rubaie issued his assessment of al Qaeda’s fading prospects Thursday in order to persuade more insurgent groups to come forward and take up the government’s offer. Ansar al Sunna, the largest Iraqi group federated with al Qaeda, struck back by murdering the prime minister’s cousin, Sabah al-Maliki, commander of the Shiite Badr Force Organization in western Iraq.