A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending May June 21, 2007

Fatah activists are settling scores with Hamas in Lebanon


16 June: Saturday night, rampaging Fatah gunmen hurled themselves against Hamas bases and offices in Lebanese refugee camps. Serious clashes erupted near the southern port of Sidon.

debkafile‘s military sources report Hamas has warned Fatah to call off its purges in the West Bank and Lebanon or else face deadly terrorist attacks including suicide bombings, shooting attacks and car bombs. Mahmoud Abbas’ government headquarters and the homes of Fatah political and military leaders will be singled out.

Sami Abu Zuhairi, who issued the threat to Fatah, headed a group of Hamas intelligence and terrorist officers who trained near Khartoum especially for the Gaza coup under Iranian Revolutionary Guards instructors. He now heads the intelligence team urgently sifting through the archives captured in the offices of Palestinian Authority security services, as debkafile revealed on June 15. He also led the looting of Yasser Arafat’s villa in Gaza Saturday in search of incriminating materials against Fatah and Israeli leaders in the records of the 12 years Arafat and top PLO leaders, including Mahmoud Abbas, spent in Tunis from 1982-1994.


Damascus ordered the Katyusha attack on N. Israeli Kiryat Shemona from Lebanon. There were no casualties


17 June: Three 107mm rockets fired from Wadi Taiba Sunday, June 17, by an unknown Palestinian radical group called Ansar Allah based in the Palestinian Ain Hilwa refugee camp near Sidon was ordered by Syrian military intelligence as the first in a series. Hizballah intelligence officers pinpointed the launching site to make sure it hit the Israeli town and supplied the rockets. Residents rushed for bomb shelters for the first time since the Lebanon War ended eleven months ago. A factory and parked vehicles were damaged.

debkafile‘s intelligence sources report that Syria and Hizballah are preparing an escalating series of rocket barrages of northern Israel civilian and military locations in the coming weeks. It is in line with an overall strategic plan orchestrated by Tehran, Damascus and Hizballah to stage attacks in Lebanon, Israel and Palestinian territory. Its objectives are to destabilize the pro-Western Siniora government in Beirut and whittle down Israel’s deterrent strength.


UK Conservative leader David Cameron says: “Yes, I am a Zionist”


17 June: In an question-answer session at the Conservative Friends of Israel, Cameron said: “If what you mean by Zionist, someone who believes that the Jews have a right to a homeland in Israel and a right to their country then yes, I am a Zionist and I’m proud of the fact that Conservative politicians down the ages have played a huge role in helping to bring this about.”

The Conservative went on to say: There is something deep in our party’s DNA that believes in Israel, the right of Israel to exist, the right of Israel to defend itself and that a deal should only happen if it means that Israel is really allowed to have peace within secure borders and real guarantees about its future.”


Recapture of the Philadelphi Route Is Proposed to Contain the Hamas Horror Show


16 June: More and more Israeli commentators are saying openly that Israel’s pull-out from Gaza in the summer of 2005 was an open invitation to the extremists to take over. Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and foreign minister Tzipi Livni are now building new castles in the sky to vindicate that error.

Hamas’s victory, they say, offers Israel a fresh start for peace diplomacy with a Hamas-free partner on the West Bank.

This thinking led Olmert to heed the advice, which debkafile‘s military sources report came from chief of staff Lt. Gen Gaby Ashkenazi – and was opposed by the OC Southern Command Brig. Gen Yoav Galant – to refrain from interfering in the Hamas takeover.

Instead, Olmert shored up his cabinet and political strength by designating the newly-elected Labor leader Ehud Barak defense minister.

A former Israeli national security adviser Gen (ret.) Giora Eiland argues now that the influx of tons of smuggled weapons and explosives into Gaza Strip must be halted at any price. There is a real danger of Hamas importing reinforcements from Syria and Lebanon for its next offensive. Egypt will, as usual, stand aside.

Eiland was the only defense official at the time to oppose disengagement as a recipe for bringing Iran and al Qaeda to Israel’s borders. Having been proved correct, he now proposes to limit the damage by recapturing the Philadelphi route and the southern outskirts of Palestinian Rafah, flatten the houses there and evict 15,000-20,000 people.

Gaza must be cut off from Israel to block Hamas and its Iranian and Syrian sponsors’ path to a second victory on the West Bank.

The cutoff would apply to humanitarian aid. Let the Arab world deal this time with Gaza’s distress and pump aid to the Rafah crossing via Egypt.

Eiland allows for an international outcry, argues Israel is left with no choice at this late date but to break some eggs. This option would give Israel the chance to start combating Hamas at a point from which the IDF enjoys a position of strength. The Philadelphi route offers that point.

debkafile: Israel’s military command fears Hamas is planning to import reinforcements from Lebanon and Syria to attack the West Bank. Mahmoud Abbas US-trained force is not expected to stand up there any more bravely than it withstood Hamas in Gaza.


Abbas Wants Israeli Concessions to Buy Reconciliation with Hamas


18 June: Mahmoud Abbas has good reason to rejoice over Ehud Olmert’s strange celebration of the Hamas victory in Gaza as “a new peace opportunity,” especially as the prime minister brings this message to his White House talks with President George W. Bush Tuesday, June 19.

The rest of the West is lamenting the fact a jihadist Islamic terrorist organization has acquired rule over a territory for the first time. Not Olmert and not Abbas, who is promised a shower of direct Western aid withheld from his shared government with Hamas and is now preparing a list of extortionate concessions from Israel. He will demand the massive release of the most dangerous Palestinian security prisoners, including multiple murderers, and the sweeping removal of the West Bank checkpoints which screen and intercept potential bombers.

He was quick to grasp that Olmert will be openhanded enough to give him a fresh lease of life in the form of concessions to buy his passport to credibility in Palestinian eyes that raises him out of the trough of the defeated party in Gaza.

Once his creds are restored, he will seek reconciliation with Hamas that will crown him overall Palestinian leader. That process will start in a couple of months after the dust settles in Gaza.

debkafile‘s sources affirm that Olmert will go along with Abbas’ maneuvers because he hopes dialogue with the Palestinians will make Israelis forget his many blunders – from supporting Israel’s disengagement from Gaza in 2005, to his permission for the Jan. 2006 Palestinian general poll, which brought Hamas to power and on to his mismanagement of the Lebanon war last summer and failure to secure Sderot against a hail of missiles a year on.


Hamas steps up scale of weapons smuggling into Gaza, including Katyusha rockets


18 June: Israel has sent its first consignment of medical supplies to Gaza through the Red Cross to Gaza. It is blocked at the Erez crossing together with foodstuffs by the absence of authority on the Palestinian side to take delivery.

Hamas has stepped up the scale of its smuggling activities from Egyptian Sinai, importing quantities of Katyusha rockets, guns, explosives and ammunition through the tunnels under the Philadelphi route.

debkafile: Abbas' announcement of inquiry commission to probe Fatah’s Gaza defeat is step before dropping ex-Gaza strongman Muhammed Dahlan.


For Operation Arrowhead Ripper in Diyala, US troops in Iraq “made a deal with the devil”


19 June: Monday, June 18, more than 10,000 troops with heavy armored Stryker and Bradley vehicles and air support embarked on the Baquba operation with no illusions about vanquishing al Qaeda once and for all. US military successes in Anbar province and sections of Baghdad have driven al Qaeda to set up base in other parts of Iraq. Some have even returned to their old haunts when Iraqi forces are left behind.

The truck bombing which murdered 87 people and ravaged the Shiite Khillani mosque in central Baghdad Tuesday is not the last.

This deadly cycle goes on revolving even after Sunni insurgents groups and tribes, including the Baathist 1920 Revolutionary Battalions, join US-led combat against al Qaeda, as they did in Anbar and Baghdad. Their cooperation is extremely valuable because, having fought for many months alongside al Qaeda, they are familiar with its tactics. The trouble is that these Sunni collaborators are committed to ousting the Americans from their country as well as al Qaeda.

The United States is therefore giving Sunni insurgent groups arms and money to beat al Qaeda in full knowledge that one day those arms will be turned against American troops. US officers in Iraq say: “American forces have made a deal with the devil.”


Al Qaeda orders chief of its Palestinian wing not to free BBC reporter Alan Johnston or negotiate release of Israeli soldier Gilead Shalit


19 June: The order appeared in an official al Qaeda Web site early Tuesday, June 19. It explains why Army of Islam leader Mumtaz Durmush is holding onto the British captive at the risk of a clash with the 500 Hamas Executive Force surrounding his compound in Gaza City. Although Britain maintains no official ties with Hamas, the MI5 domestic intelligence chief asked the Palestinian Islamists to refrain from releasing Johnston by force for fear of his life.

In its statement, al Qaeda asks: Why is Hamas suddenly working for Johnston’s release when in Iraq and other places he would be executed? And how dare Hamas monopolize the Israeli Gilead Shalit and negotiate a deal with Israel?

debkafile‘s counter-terror sources report that the communique accuses Hamas of cutting out its partners in the kidnap, a reference to Durmush and his Army of Islam.

Al Qaeda’s statement and its order to the group’s Palestinian minion increases the danger to the British and Israeli captives.


Abbas gets nowhere in bid for Syria’s Assad to condemn Hamas coup d’etat in Gaza.


19 June: Voices were raised in their two-hour telephone conversation Sunday, June 17.

Mahmoud Abbas asked the Syrian president to follow in his father’s footsteps and recognize a single Palestinian authority, the PLO and himself as its head, while treating Hamas as an occupying force in Gaza. When Assad did not immediately agree, debkafile‘s Middle East sources report Abbas threatened to publicly expose Syria’s active role in abetting Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip. He then turned for support to Syrian opposition Muslim Brotherhood leader in exile Sadr e-Din Bayouni.


Mahmoud Abbas orders closure of West Bank to Gaza refugees, including Fatah and presidential guard members


20 June: Tired of waiting, many of the refugees stranded at the Erez crossing from Gaza to Israel since the ended of the fighting returned to their homes in Gaza. Most of the injured and sick were evacuated to Israeli hospitals. Egypt has augmented its security forces on Gaza’s southern border which has been closed to refugees.

debkafile reports: Palestinian Authority VIPs and their families were evacuated from Gaza to Ramallah earlier this week. The Russian embassy in Tel Aviv Wednesday organized the evacuation of Russian and Ukrainian wives of Gazan men.

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