A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending November 17, 2005
Some Palestinians have second thoughts about indiscriminate suicide killings after 27 West Bank Palestinians die in al Qaeda’s triple hotel bombings
11 November: Palestinian newspaper commentator Hani al-Masri wrote: “I expect now a significant change in the Palestinian political culture. Fore sure the attacks will persuade Palestinians to reconsider this way of suicide bombings and I think it will reduce support for attacks that kill without differentiation between children, women, wedding parties and ordinary people.”
PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas said the perpetrators “are not Arabs, are not human.” He sent condolences to King Abdullah and the Jordanian people and ordered flags lowered to half-staff.
US Secretary Rice was updated on new Sunni Muslim unit during her surprise visit to Mosul Friday
12 November: debkafile Exclusive military sources report that her main errand was to meet Sunni tribal leaders working with the Americans to create and train a new Sunni militia called Desert Protectors that is separate from the new Iraqi army. One half of the northern town of Mosul near the Syrian border is Kurdish, a quarter is controlled by these tribal leaders, and the remaining districts by Iraqi insurgents under command of the former Baath party.
Al Qaeda’s third communique on the triple hotel bombings in Amman threatens Israel
12 November: Jordan was termed “Israel’s buffer zone.” It will not be long, said the statement, “before raids by the mujahedeen come to the Jewish state itself.”
Sen. Hillary Clinton (Dem.N.Y.) supports Israel’s West Bank defense barrier
13 November: debkafile: Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice, two of the most influential women in American politics, are both in Israel Sunday, Nov. 13, but are not scheduled to meet.
While touring the Jerusalem section of the fence at Gilo, Hillary Clinton said: “This is not against the Palestinian people. This is against terrorists. The Palestinian people have to help prevent terror. They have to change their attitudes about terrorism, starting with the Palestinian Authority and going through Palestinian society.”
Her comments endorsed Israel’s position on the defensive nature of the barrier. She is not slated to visit the Palestinian areas.
Iraqi would-be suicide bomber confessed on Jordanian TV
14 November: The fourth bomber, Sajida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi, 35, was captured alive by Jordanian police four days after her husband and two other Iraqi suicide bombers killed 57 people in three hotels.
debkafile: Her testimony and Jordan’s deputy prime minister Marwan Muasher report conflicted with the third al Qaeda communique on the attacks on several points.
Al Qaeda deliberately targeted the Palestinian Authority as well as US interests and Jordan
14 November: debkafile‘s counter-terror sources: Altogether 27 Palestinians were reported killed out of the 57, 17 from the same West Bank village of Silet al-Daher east of Tulkarm. The Radisson was selected because a Palestinian wedding party there was the opportunity for a mass-casualty strike on similar lines to the Passover Seder massacre of 17 Israelis at Netanya’s Park Hotel in March 2002. The attack on the Grand Hyatt struck the lobby where a group of senior Palestinian, Jordanian and Saudi intelligence officers were communing secretly and wiped out the entire group. The Palestinians were Maj-General Bashir Nafeh, head of Palestinian military intelligence on the West Bank and Abed A-Lon a senior facilitator between the PA and Western intelligence
Rice Secures Rafah Package Stripped of Adequate Counter-Terror Safeguards
15 November: The White House ordered Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to stay over in Jerusalem until the deal for the Gaza Strip’s international crossings was in the bag.
The breakthrough was announced after she met defense minister Shaul Mofaz Tuesday morning. It was achieved after Israel backed down from virtually all its demands for security safeguards against terrorist incursions.
debkafile‘s political sources analyze some of the agreement’s salient features.
The Rafah crossing from Gaza to Egypt will reopen on November 25 as a Palestinian-Egyptian facility with a European presence. Video images will be transferred to a control center at the Kerem Shalom crossing which is on Israeli soil. It will be manned by Israelis and Palestinians with a European presence.
Israel will not be entitled to demand that suspected terrorists be kept out or detained. The Palestinians will only be required to report on the arrivals of VIPs, diplomats and humanitarian cases – no one else. As for the crossings from Gaza into Israel, Israel surrendered the prerogative to shut down them down to secure personnel against terror alerts, although these facilities are notoriously prime terrorist targets. Jerusalem has undertaken to first notify the US embassy in Tel Aviv and back up its “request” with specific information, thus parting with its intelligence secrets. It must then wait for permission from Washington – or its refusal – to the closure.
Effective preventive action may well be held up by this delay.
By surrendering this point, Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon relinquished a key element of Israel’s sovereign right to self-defense and agreed to hamstring its own army’s freedom to combat terror. The presence of Palestinian customs inspectors at Kerem Shalom makes an additional inroad on Israeli sovereignty.
From Dec. 15 to January 15, “secured Palestinian convoys” will start rolling across southern Israel from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank – trucks for goods and buses for people – unrestricted by Israel. The Palestinians want their own forces to secure the trucks. Americans and Europeans will determine the procedures for their passage through Israeli territory.
There is no sign of the Sharon government standing up to Washington’s demands on that point either, so it is more than likely that Palestinian “forces” will be let loose on a wide swathe of southern Israel to escort 150 trucks a day bound for Hebron, Ramallah, Jenin and Nablus.
The provisions for the Rafah crossing will also be applied to Gaza’s deep sea port construction of which begins without delay. Israel has therefore forfeited control and oversight over incoming goods and people to Gaza by sea as well as overland.
All of Israel’s security branches sent written protests to Sharon against the new Gaza crossings deal as exposing Israel to grave terrorist peril
16 November: The protests came from the top levels of Israel’s armed forces, the Shin Beit and all other intelligence services and the police, after US secretary Rice forced the accord through in a diplomatic blitz.
By this extreme step –
1. Each of the branches submitted separate warnings to prime minister Ariel Sharon and defense minister Shaul Mofaz. They were alerted to the grave hazards in store when the crossings are reopened later this month and the rest of the accord goes into effect, shorn as they have been of appropriate security controls.
2. Each branch placed its reservations in writing to clearly record where responsibility lies for the worst possible contingencies.
debkafile‘s security sources report the accord caught them in the middle of constructing a new security system designed to safeguard the country after Israeli troops were pulled out of the Gaza Strip. It divests Israel of the means of keeping terrorists from making free use of the crossings which reopen Nov. 25 and the Palestinian convoys driving from Gaza to the West Bank and back from Dec. 15.
There is no longer any barrier to Palestinian terrorists bringing shoulder-launched anti-air missiles any time to the point from which they can turn Israel’s international airport into a disaster zone and paralyze international air traffic to and from the country.
Our sources reveal that the prime minister’s office made sure the six-page accord left by Rice was not translated into Hebrew. Israeli television and radio audiences were therefore not exposed to its contents.
Israel is denied any veto power over the arrival of terrorists from Sinai to Gaza or from Gaza to the West Bank in both directions. A wanted terrorist can simply board a bus in Gaza and commute to Hebron or Ramallah without restraint. Israel officials may not stop and search any vehicle, albeit on Israeli soil, let alone make an arrest.
Equally freedom of control is promised the merchandise and container trucks.
As Israeli security leaders saw with dread the collapse of their painfully wrought war on terror – a NATO military mission arrived in Israel as Rice left to study Israel’s tactics and techniques.
UN-Damascus showdown at hand
16 November: debkafile‘s sources report a UN-Damascus showdown time at hand over the Hariri murder. President Bashar Assad is digging his heels in over letting 6 Syrian officers be questioned outside the country.
UN secretary Kofi Annan and investigator Detlev Mehlis will not give way on this point. Turkey and Jordan which have broad trade relations with Syria are accordingly preparing for the moment that the UN Security Council slaps down economic sanctions against the Assad regime. Iraq has evacuated its diplomats from Damascus.
Israel‘s northern border was put on a high alert Thursday night
17 November: Hizballah bands are reported by intelligence to be heading for raids against Israeli military border positions and villages.
There is also a threat that Hizballah plans to abduct Israeli soldiers and civilians and take them to Lebanon as hostages.
debkafile‘s sources report Syria is leaning hard on Hizballah to force the Lebanese group to generate a crisis on the Israeli border that will ease the international pressure on Damascus. The Syrians want the Lebanese Shiite terrorists to additionally call the Shiite masses out to the streets of Beirut in order to disrupt the UN investigation of the Hariri murder which is closing in on Syrian officials.
They also demand that the Hizballah cabinet minister quit and so bring down the anti-Damascus Fouad Siniora government.
A similar high alert was declared on the Israeli border two weeks ago Nov. 3.