A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending March April 20, 2006

The Hamas Is Not Without Alternative Resources


 


10 April: Even if no international donors cough up financial aid for the Hamas-led government, the Palestinian treasury needs not be insolvent. The Palestine Investment Fund – PIF – set up to conceal and invest the funds Yasser Arafat diverted from international donations to the Palestinian people – is now in the hands of Mahmoud Abbas.


The capital is estimated at $1.2-1.4 billion and its monthly yield counted in tens of millions.


However, Abu Mazen, who holds the key to this hoard, will not hand over a single dollar until Hamas recognizes – not Israel, but the Palestinian Liberation Organization as the paramount authority of the Palestinian people.


In the unresolved tug-o’-war over the supreme authority in Palestinian government institutions, Abbas is using the fund to put the squeeze on Hamas. He wants to be recognized as top boss of Palestinian government rather than Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya. For the time being, Israel may talk tough and even crack down on terror, but it has not switched off the flow of fuel, fuel products, electricity, water and medicines to the Gaza Strip – free of charge for now.


In the meantime, London helped Hamas float a trial balloon through British media, which was picked up also by some Israeli outlets, by a reference to “a two-state solution” of the Palestinian issue. This indirect recognition of Israel was designed to give the European Union an opening for starting contacts with Hamas officials, grounds for resuming aid and dividing the ranks of the US-European front.


The ploy foundered when Hamas foreign minister Mahmoud a-Zahar and prime minister Haniya denied having accepted a two-state formula.


 


Israel’s non-policy on Iran


 


11 April: debkafile‘s Analysts note: If Washington’s initial reaction to the Iranian disclosure that it had produced low grade enriched uranium was pallid, the Israeli response was non-existent. Not only did the Iranians make no secret of a “historic achievement” – in defiance of the United Nations and the West – but Mahmoud Ahmadinejad positively threw it in their faces.


A short while earlier, Ehud Olmert, acting prime minister, asked by Time magazine whether Israel would attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, said he did not think Israel should be at the forefront of this war. “I don’t know why people think this is first and foremost a war for Israel. It’s a problem for every civilized country. It is therefore incumbent on America and the Europeans to form a strategy and remove this danger.”


The only problem is that Iran’s president has never threatened to wipe America or Europe off the map – only Israel. But Israel’s new leaders, Olmert and foreign minister Tzipi Livni have developed a new catchall cure-all for all Israel’s predicaments from the Iranian nuclear threat to a Palestinian government ruled by a fundamentalist terrorist organization: Israel will follow the lead of “the international community.”


 


Iran Flaunts Low-Level Enrichment to Conceal High-Powered Weaponizaton Plant


 


14 April: Hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s claim of Iranian success in low-level uranium enrichment was more bombastic than frank. In his speech, he neglected to mention a top-secret plant under construction that is designed to run 155,000 centrifuges, enough to enrich uranium for 3-5 nuclear bombs a year.


This is Project B, or the hidden face of the enrichment plant open to inspection at Natanz.


This plant, due for completion next October, is scheduled to go on line at the end of 2007. According to our intelligence sources, running-in has begun at some sections of the Neyshabour installation, which is located 600 km northeast of Tehran. debkafile‘s sources reveal too that the Neyshabour plant has been built 150 m deep under farmland covered with mixed vegetable crops and dubbed Shahid Moradian, in the name of a war martyr as obscure as its existence.


In Moscow Thursday, April 13, US assistant secretary of state on arms control Stephen Rademaker calculated that, with 54,000 centrifuges, the Iranians could produce enough enriched uranium for a bomb in 16 days. According to this reckoning, the Neshabour installation, when ready to go in three years, will have three times the capacity of Natanz and be able to turn out 9-15 bombs a year.


Russian experts completed the initial plans in 2003 and construction began in early 2004. In late 2005, Bulgarian transport planes delivered tens of thousands of centrifuges from Belarus and Ukraine; they were transported directly to Neyshabour. In January 2006, 23 Ukrainian engineers arrived to start installing the equipment, joined in February by 46 Belarusian nuclear experts who are working in shifts to prepare the 155,000 P-1 and P-2 centrifuges for operation.


This compares with 60,000 in Nathanz – of which 40,000 are accessible for inspection while 20,000 are hidden in closed subterranean chambers.


Neyshabour, however, still needs to undergo experimental stages, according to our Iranian sources.


 


Mahmoud Abbas offers to hand control of all the Gaza crossings to Hamas


 


16 April: This was a turnabout for Abu Mazen, possibly a gesture to quell rising Hamas resentment when only last week ordered the Rafah crossing to Egypt to be placed under the elite Palestinian Force 17 which is controlled by his Fatah.


Our sources that the crossings he proposes to hand over to the Hamas government include also the Gaza-Israel border installations at Karni, Erez and Sufa. This would confront Israel which refuses to have any truck with Hamas officials with a predicament.


According to debkafile‘s exclusive sources, 40 Hamas official delegates and 12 Jihad Islami operatives reached the Palestinian solidarity conference in Tehran. European and Egyptian border inspectors did not restrict their departure through the Rafah crossing. Neither were they stopped from flying to Tehran out of Cairo international airport.


 


Multiple-rocket launchers go into Palestinian service. Israeli human rights groups sue for IDF to mute its anti-missile barrage


 


16 April: The new rocket-launcher unveiled in the Gaza Strip is capable of shooting 10 Grad (Quds-3) rockets simultaneously from a truck and is designed exclusively to hit Israeli civilian targets within a range of 18-30 km.


In Jerusalem, at the same time, six human rights groups sought a High Court injunction to mute the effectiveness of the IDF’s artillery bombardments against Palestinian missile sites for fear of endangering Palestinian civilians. These groups have never pursued court action against the daily Palestinian Qassam bombardments which single out Israeli civilian locations.


The new Palestinian weapon threatens not only the villages surrounding the Gaza Strip and Ashkelon, but also the towns of Ashdon, Netivot and Ofakim, as debkafile first reported on March 30.


1. To maximize Israel casualties and improve the missiles’ accuracy. Friday, April 4, a single Qassam missile just missed the Kibbutz Yad Mordecai sports hall causing some damage. A 10-rocket volley of 170kg of explosives would have achieved a vastly broader spread of death and damage than the primitive hit-or-miss Qassam missiles fired daily from the Gaza Strip.


2. To reach and devastate the sensitive Israel power, port, oil and pipeline facilities in Ashkelon


debkafile‘s sources add: The Palestinian missile crews do not need to hit the core of the big Ashkelon power station; the transformer plant would suffice to black out the entire country. Restoring the power supply to all parts of Israel would take several days.


 


Hizballah’s Gaza-based 1800 Forward Command orchestrated massive Tel Aviv suicide bombing that left 9 dead, 65 injured Monday


 


17 April: This command’s mission is to design “quality” terror attacks against Israel. debkafile‘s exclusive counter-terror sources reveal: The last pieces of the Tel Aviv attack were put in place at a four-way meeting last week in the Iranian capital between the Damascus-based Jihad Islami chief Ramadan Shalah, the Jihad Islami Gaza commander Mohammad al Hindi, the Hizballah second-in-command Sheik Ali Qassem and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards chief of the al Quds Brigades and Middle East terror networks, General Kasim Suleimani.


The bombing attack at the old Tel Aviv bus terminal Monday was the first suicide strike against Israel to be planned outside Palestinian territory. While from last week, Israeli security forces had more than 70 terror threats in hand, they had no advance intelligence of this one. Hours later, Israeli interrogators were still groping in the dark for the full shape of the conspiracy.


They assume the bomber was kept under wraps by Hizballah agents, who went to the West Bank to choose and prepare him for the mission, well away from Israel’s ears and eyes in the Palestinian territory. Cells of the al Aqsa Suicide Brigades of Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah in touch with Hizballah agents were asked to help transport the bomber to his destination.


 


France and Egypt collude to bust Western anti-Hamas funding-banking boycott


 


17 April: To transfer the $50 million dollars pledged to the Hamas-led Palestinian government, Tehran has simply opened an account at the Misr International Bank (MIBank) in Cairo, according to debkafile‘s Middle East sources. This back-door financing route was approved by the Egyptian government. Our sources add that control of the state-owned MiBank was acquired by France’s Societe Generale which is also, according to debkafile‘s intelligence sources, Tehran’s main banking channel in Europe. Therefore, the promised Iranian funding of $50 million can be transferred to Paris and thence to Cairo and the Gaza Strip, easily busting the aid and financing boycott the US and Israel imposed on the new Palestinian government.


As for Egypt, Cairo may go through the motions of blacklisting the Palestinian government under radical Islamic rule, but Egyptian border officials have allowed the Gaza-Rafah crossing to become a two-way highway for the comings and goings of Hamas officials to any Arab or Muslim country they please. This license plus the availability of an Egyptian banking channel expose the Mubarak government as the silent backer of Hamas’ efforts to establish itself as the legitimate Palestinian government.


 


Olmert’s Opts for Soft Response to Palestinian Suicide Attack


 


18 April: After the Hamas government justified the suicide attack that killed 9 Israelis, and injured 65, ludicrously as “self defense,” a swift, punishing blow to the Palestinian government was taken for granted as a deterrent to further outrages. Instead, acting prime minister Ehud Olmert rejected the advice of military leaders to declare the Hamas government an enemy authority and drew back from hitting Hamas institutions.


Instead a number of administrative measures were approved.


Israel will begin revoking the Israeli residency status of three Hamas officials living in East Jerusalem, among them Mahmoud Abu Tier. They will certainly not miss exposing their case as a propaganda boon, an opportunity to challenge Israel’s sovereignty in Jerusalem in Israeli’s high court and up to international tribunals and the United Nations.


debkafile asks: Olmert and Livni could have saved themselves this unprofitable exercise if in the first place they had barred Hamas terrorists from running for parliament last January and disallowed polling in Jerusalem. Now it is too late.b>


Israel’s security branches will further disconnect the districts of the West Bank by “almost” completely blocking Palestinian passage between the terrorist hotbeds of the Jenin and Tulkarm districts and Nablus and Ramallah. There would be more roadblocks and more stringent screening.


Olmert promises for the umpteenth time to complete the last sections of the barrier supposed to seal Jerusalem to terrorist access. Why is Ehud Olmert like Ariel Sharon before him concealing the real delaying factor, which is not litigation but the serious controversy between Jerusalem and Washington over the fence’s route?

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