A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending May 31, 2007

Israeli forces round up 33 Hamas officials on West Bank including Palestinian education minister


24 May: In addition to the minister, Nasser e-Din Shear, the Hamas mayors of Nablus and Qalqilya, local council heads and several members of parliament were detained Wednesday night, May 23. The Israeli air force also struck three Hamas-related targets in Gaza. debkafile‘s military sources report that after the kidnap of Gilead Shalit last June, Israel rounded up scores of Hamas officials on the West Bank and in Jerusalem – to no avail.


“Israel can forget about Gilead Shalit if Hamas leaders are harmed – Hamas military spokesman


26 May: This threat was issued by Abu Obeida Saturday after the Israeli air force struck another four Hamas targets, killing 5 members of the Hamas Executive Force and injuring 18. Hamas reports that Israel has destroyed all ten of the Executive Force command posts in the Gaza Strip.

“Our suicide attacks inside Israel are only a matter of time, depending on conditions on the ground not a decision,” said Abu Obeida. debkafile: Israel has rejected the Hamas demand for an informal Gaza ceasefire that also covers the West Bank. Officials in Jerusalem say Israel must on no account give up its counter-terror initiatives on the West Bank. The territory has been penetrated by Iran-backed cells – especially the north, who are tireless in their efforts to mount suicide attacks against Israel’s main cities including Jerusalem. They are thwarted only by around-the-clock IDF incursions and precise in-depth intelligence.


United Arab Emirates and Jordan air forces take part in US weapons-ammo airlift to Lebanon


26 May: debkafile‘s military sources report that Friday, May 25, the first cargoes of American advanced weapons, ammunition and special anti-terror combat systems landed in Beirut to boost the Lebanese army’s bid to subdue the radical Fatah al-Islam uprising in the Palestinian Nahr al-Bared refugee camp near Tripoli.

The transports’ holds are being loaded from US emergency stores in the region. For the first time, Arab and Gulf governments are overtly taking a direct hand in US warfare against al Qaeda’s spreading violence.

Some of the Jordanian air transports are also carrying officers and instructors of the kingdom’s special force and intelligence, who are well-seasoned in combat against the al Qaeda menace in Iraq and at home. The Fatah al-Islam challenge has escalated dangerously, augmented by pro-Syrian reinforcements led by pro-Syrian Tehran-funded Palestinian extremist Ahmed Jibril’s group.


Israel‘s Northern Command has placed military units along the Lebanese and Syrians borders on the alert in case of a flare-up


26 May: Washington, Jerusalem and Beirut believe Syrian ruler Bashar Assad is pumping up war tensions in Lebanon to intimidate the UN Security Council which is due to vote Tuesday, May 29, on an international tribunal for suspects in the Hariri assassination. There are some indications that they could also ignite Israel’s northern borders.

debkafile‘s military sources report Syria is known to have trained terrorist teams to infiltrate Israel from Syria and Lebanon. The northern command is on the ready for artillery fire and the Israeli Air Force prepared for Syrian aircraft intrusions. The navy is braced for missile attacks on its vessels by Hizballah, which has just received a supply of C-802 shore-to-ship missiles from Syria, or even a ground incursion.

Jerusalem took careful note of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s threat to Israel from Isfahan Thursday: The Zionist state will be uprooted, he said, if it attacks Lebanon again this summer.


Hizballah head warns Lebanon and Arab world not to tangle with al Qaeda on US behalf


26 May: Hassan Nasrallah’s TV speech Friday night, May 25, confirmed that the Fatah al-Islam faction fighting in Lebanon is al Qaeda, at a time when the jihadists’ deepening involvement in the Palestinian cause is taboo for Israeli, Arab and Western spokesmen. Nasrallah bluntly urged the Lebanese army not to storm the Palestinian Nahr al-Bared refugee camp near Tripoli because that would entangle Lebanon in the US war on al Qaeda.


Hamas’s new extended-range, high-powered missiles go into service against Israeli populations


26 May. Using standard explosives, the upgraded weapons pack an extra punch and reach deeper into Israel. One exploded Friday night in Sderot’s Neve Eshkol neighborhood, blasting every flat in a four-story residential building, spreading fragments over a wide area with the effect of a cluster bomb. Every window was smashed, doors and windows wrenched out and ceilings collapsed. Many of the occupants were away else the casualties would have been greater than 4 injured and 10 in shock.

Overnight Friday and early Saturday, six terrorist targets were struck in Israeli air raids, described as “links in the operational missile chain.” They included a position of Fatah leader, Mahmoud Abbas’ Presidential Guard, which is collaborating with Hamas in its anti-Israel missile campaign.


Palestinian Hamas terrorist at prestigious English literary festival, shares platform with Gordon Brown


27 May: An invited guest to the Hay Literary Festival in Wales, Ghazi Hamad, Hamas spokesman, assured his audience that BBC reporter Alan Johnston, kidnapped by Hamas’ allies two months ago, is alive and well: “No one has tried to harm him or hurt him,” he said and he will be released “very, very soon.”

Hamad, who does not have a clue about the missing reporter , is important in the Hamas Islamist terror machine as director of the smuggling routes of funds and weapons from Damascus and Tehran through Egyptian Sinai. The money is spent on the manufacture of the Qassam missiles which terrorize Israeli civilian population abutting on Gaza day by day.

Interestingly, the very people Hamas has condemned to destruction and whose civilians are attacked day by day, are dished out the reverse treatment by leading British organizations, namely boycott.

As long as people like Ghazi Hamad are made welcome at British literary festivals, there is little hope for Alan Johnston or the Israeli soldier Gilead Shalit, both kidnapped by the same nihilist al Qaeda-Hamas gangs.


US and Israel eye with concern test-flight of modernized Russian tactical cruise missile


28 May: The Iskander, which has a 280 km range and carries a 480-kilo warhead, is considered one of the most advanced surface missiles in the world. Israel has learned that President Vladimir Putin is willing in principle to sell these missiles to Syria.

The worry in Israel’s high command its possession would allow Syria to mount a surprise attack undetected.

US officials believe the Iskander-M is the new -generation missile to which Russian officials are referring as capable of striking the interceptors and radar station which America plans to deploy in Poland and the Czech Republic to shield Europe from Iranian missile attack.

debkafile‘s military sources add: The recent joint US-Israeli military war game Juniper Cobra carried out simulated interceptions of the Russian Iskander by US and Israeli anti-missile systems. The Russians may have upgraded their missile in the interim to beat those systems. A new US-Russian arms race is gaining momentum. It is focusing on

sophisticated missiles and the systems for beating them.


Monday starts with five missiles fired from Gaza injuring an Israeli in Sderot day after Oshri Oz was killed in his car


28 May: Oshri Oz, 35, who is survived by his pregnant wife and a two-year old daughter, provided computer services in Sderot. Another two people were injured when an upgraded Hamas missile went through the roof of the city’s public leisure center.

debkafile reports that the reinforced concrete installed in some schools, homes and public buildings in the last two years cannot withstand Hamas’ new, extended range, high-powered missiles containing 5-10 kilos of TNT (up from 3 kilos). Even provided with extra fortified layers, the buildings may offer some protection against blast and shrapnel – but not a direct hit.

Jerusalem police are keeping checkpoints guarding the capital's entrances on elevated alert after a Palestinian terrorist attack Saturday night injured four Israeli checkpoint personnel, two seriously.


Two Labor frontrunners in leadership primary Barak and Ayalon face off in second round June 12


29 May: Former prime minister Ehud Barak polled 36%, comfortably ahead of former Shin Bet chief Ami Ayalon’s 31% and the incumbent, outgoing defense minister Amir Peretz, who trailed them in third place with 23%. Peretz will hand the defense ministry over to the winner.

debkafile: The primary has shown that Labor founded by David Ben Gurion as a social democratic party, which defined Israel as a Zionist state, has evolved into a bi-national Jewish-Arab grouping ruled by veteran elites and moneyed classes in the well-off Tel Aviv region. Labor, like the prime minister’s Kadima, has failed to leave its imprint on the million newcomers from Russia or the young 18-25 voter.

Last year’s Lebanon War fatally damaged the credibility of the Kadima-Labor partnership. Both have good reason to avoid an early election which could jeopardize their survival.


UN Security Council votes to establish an international court for 2005 Hariri assassination


30 May: The measure was passed at the Lebanese government’s request in the teeth of fierce resistance from Syrian president Bashar Assad who fears his close relatives will end up in the dock.

debkafile reports exclusively that a double agent for Syria and al Qaeda, a Saudi national, was detained in Beirut Tuesday, May 29. A specialist in orchestrating terrorist operations, his mission was part of Damascus’ plan to loose mayhem should the UN Security Council create the Hariri tribunal. He acted as go-between for Syrian military intelligence and the Fatah al Islam radicals battling the Lebanese army in the Palestinian Nahar el-Barad refugee camp near Tripoli. Arrested in a five-star apartment hotel in the Ashrafiya district of Beirut, he was also found using his contacts in the South Lebanese Ain HIlway camp to expand the Palestinian uprising to the south and instigate terrorist assaults against Israel. He entered Lebanon from Syria on with two forged passports in his pocket, and another twelve found in his apartment.

Saudi agents in Beirut joined the Lebanese interrogators to find out what the suspect knew about Syrian military intelligence interrelations with al Qaeda cells in the kingdom


Sderot takes 310 Qassam missiles from Gaza 16 days in a row. But cabinet sticks to current military tactics


30 May: Thousands have fled the daily barrage battering the town of 23,000. The effectiveness of air raids against Hamas operatives running the missile campaign is diminishing. Yet the Olmert government refuses to authorize a substantial ground action demanded by the IDF command to root out the menace which is destroying Sderot day by day.


US secretary of state cautions Israel against peace talks with Syria instead of the Palestinian track


30 May: Condoleezza Rice says there is no substitute for creating a Palestinian state.

She is discussing the stalled peace process with Group of Eight foreign ministers in Berlin.

debkafile reports: Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas who is bolstered by Washington is a fading force on the Palestinian scene without the clout to follow through on peace talks. After he opted for a power-sharing deal between his Fatah and Hamas in Mecca in January, the two Palestinian groups embarked on a factional war and Hamas launched a missile offensive against Israel.

Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert’s popularity ratings are at rock bottom for his mismanagement of last year’s Lebanon War and his failure to put a stop to the missile barrage from Gaza. Concessions to the Palestinian leader amid uncontrollable Hamas violence would be politically suicidal.


Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu promises to step up efforts to bring down government


30 May: He accuses Ehud Olmert’s administration of failures in the wars against Hizballah and the Palestinians and idleness in the last year, when the stockpiling of weapons in S. Lebanon and Gaza should have been cut down. If he succeeds, the Likud leader says he will set up a national unity government to deal with the national security emergency.


Israel forces in hot pursuit of Fatah defectors to pro-Hamas militia on West Bank


30 May: debkafile first disclosed the 40 pc breakaway from al Aqsa Brigades in revolt against Abbas-Dahlan leadership. Tuesday night, May 29, Israeli forces pinned down and killed the breakaway militia’s Jenin chief Muhammad Marai. The Israeli army has gone into action to decapitate the new group, which calls itself the Martyr Abu Amar (Yasser Arafat) Brigades, before it carries out orders from its Hamas chiefs in Gaza to launch mass-casualty, multiple suicide operations in Israeli cities from the West Bank. Israeli units have fanned out in Ramallah, Jenin, Tulkarm and Nablus.

Our counter-terror experts report Hamas has acquired its first launching pad on the West Bank, previously controlled by Fatah, for a mass suicide bombing offensive against central Israel, projected by the Iran-backed group as the next stage of its missile campaign from Gaza.

Israeli security sources see this development as the gravest terrorist threat Israel has faced since Arafat’s terrorist infrastructure had to be smashed by the large-scale 2002 Defensive Wall operation. Abu Mazen’s rule has never been in greater peril.


Outrage over British university lecturers’ backing for Palestinian boycott against Israel


31 May: The University and College Union inaugural merger conference voted 158 to 99 Wednesday, May 30, to circulate all its branch offices with a Palestinian call for a “comprehensive and consistent international boycott of all Israeli institutions.”

Israeli ministers and leading academics reacted with outrage to the British teachers’ action, which included a pledge to have the European Union freeze funding for Israeli academic institutions.

American Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg cancelled an academic visit to the UK because of “widespread anti-Israel and anti-Semitic currents in British opinion.” Other American academics are expected to follow his lead, especially since similar anti-Israel boycott actions have been approved by British medical doctors and architects.

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