A Digest of the Week’s Exclusives
Mechanics of Failure –
Three-Part DEBKAfile Special Analysis (Condensed)
First Part: The Slaughter
22 June: The terror stalking every corner of Israel lends the term holocaust a fearful, intimate meaning for the offspring of those who survived the Nazis and founded a Jewish state and a national defense force in 1948, vowing that never again would Jewish children die defenseless.
This week, Israelis began accusing their government of violating this vow, as during four days this week, 34 Israelis, 32 of them civilians and many children, died at the hands of Palestinian killers.
Of all governments, the administration headed by a fabled hardliner, Ariel Sharon, stands accused of abandoning the country to its fate – and, more particularly, the triumvirate he leads with his two Labor partners, defense minister Binyamin bin Eliezer and the co-author of the Oslo accords which brought Yasser Arafat back to the country, foreign minister Shimon Peres.
Nothing the Sharon government has done is proving effective for stemming the slaughter.
Thursday night, June 20, a Palestinian broke into a house at Itamar, a settlement south of Nablus, murdered Rahel Shevo and her three children, Neria, 15, Tsvi, 12, Avishai, 5, and the security officer Yosef Tawito, who rushed to their rescue. Two more children of the Shevo family are fighting for their lives in hospital, as are two border guards.
Three weeks ago, Palestinian killers targeted the same settlement, shooting dead three 14-year old youths playing baseball. Their friend, who survived the attack, was blasted to his death Wednesday, June 19, by a huge charge detonated in the evening rush hour by another Palestinian terrorist at the French Hill intersection of north Jerusalem.
That atrocity claimed seven lives, among them 5-year old Gal Eizerman from Maaleh Adumim, and her grandmother, Noa Alon, 60, from Ofra, and left 30 injured.
The next day, Avraham Nehmad, 17, from Rishon Lezion, died after four months in a coma from the wounds he suffered in a Palestinian bombing attack in the religious quarter of Jerusalem. He never knew he was the eighth victim of the family to die in that single attack on a Bar Mitzva celebration in Jerusalem.
The big French Hill intersection is the location of bus stops and heavy traffic heading from central and southern Jerusalem to its northern suburbs, the Dead Sea, West Bank settlements and other points north, as well as a soldiers’ hitchhiking post. Commonly described as the best-guarded junction in the country, it turned out after the bombing that only four police border guards officers were on duty without walkie-talkies.
The Palestinian district of Beit Hanina is walking distance from the intersection. This precarious situation is mirrored up and down Israeli areas abutting West Bank locations.
Second Part: Arafat’s Suicide Killers Are Winning
22 June: The ordinary Israeli who wants to know why is government is incapable of keeping him and his family safe from Palestinian terror will not be told the real reason. The answer is that the Sharon-Ben Eliezer-Peres triumvirate shares an interest in keeping its terror’s evil genius, Yasser Arafat, safe at his command post in Ramallah, each out of considerations of his own.
DEBKAfile uses the term “command post” advisedly. Arafat sits in his protected compound in Ramallah at the center of a web of aides and minions. As seen from Ramallah, the suicide campaign is a brilliant success. Arafat wants nothing more than for Israel to send Israeli troops back into Palestinian West Bank towns and erect its controversial 215-mile security fence to keep the terrorists in populated Palestinian areas of the West Bank from entering Israel. He is looking forward an Israeli government resolve to break up the Palestinian Authority and deport him together with his top aides.
Why? Because, contrary to the commonly accepted view, Arafat is not after a Palestinian state. He has honed his goals down to two:
1. To go underground like Osama bin Laden and continue to terrorize Israel until it is destroyed.
2. Unlike the Palestinian people, Arafat wants a lead role in the world Islamic jihad that aims to lay the United States to waste – or leave it injured and knocked off its perch as the world’s No. 1 superpower. The international Islamic nation will then take its place with Arafat on top.
Why do Sharon, Peres and Ben Eliezer close their eyes to Arafat’s rationale?
A. He gave his word to Bush to stay in tune with Washington’s policies and not to harm Arafat yet. Sharon trusts in the Middle East processes Washington is about to set in motion creating an opportunity for finishing Arafat, together with the prospects of Palestinian statehood.
B. He needs the triumvirate and national unity to underpin his government and disarm his vocal enemies on the far left. Labor leaders Shimon Peres and Binyamin Ben Eliezer will hang on as long as Arafat is not given the final push.
A. His career has approximated that of Yasser Arafat in the last decade so closely that the Palestinian leader’s extinction would signal his eclipse too, exposing the formidable disinformation program accompanying the Oslo accords.
DEBKAfile brings to light two little-known facts of the Oslo process:
1) Arafat used an airplane placed at his disposal by Saddam Hussein, when he flew to Washington to join President Clinton, the late Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, and Peres for the signing ceremony of the Oslo Accords. The other signatories pretended not to notice.
2) On his way back from the signing ceremony, he declared in Cairo: “We are all hastening to become martyrs.” Arafat uses “martyrs” in the sense of suicide fighters. This declaration was mistranslated then and ever since – “projects” instead of “martyrs” – to obfuscate Arafat’s true intentions.
No sooner were the Oslo Accords in the bag, when the Palestinian leader set up a suicide arm in his own Fatah group, calling it the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, which has since rivaled even the Islamic extremist Hamas and Jihad Islami in the manufacture of human bombs. While Israel handed over one piece of land after another, guns, utilities and administrative authority, Arafat shaped the most effective terrorist machine ever seen. He did not hide his intention, admitting it immediately after signing the Oslo accords, except that no one listened. Israelis are now paying to the full the price for their leaders’ deliberate inattentiveness.
Binyamin Eliezer needs to hold on to his job as defense minister if he wants to survive as Labor party leader.
Therefore, the three members of the triumvirate are mutually dependent on each other for their political survival. If Sharon lays a finger on Arafat, he loses his two allies and his government collapses.
At the same time, all three leaders are being forced to face down mounting criticism from a population that can take only so much. Sharon has two visible courses:
One, to stop holding Arafat’s personal safety sacrosanct and separating him from his terror machine. The other is to cut him off from the financial resources oiling the wheels of terror.
Third Part: Money is Terror’s Second Name
22 June: The al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, headed by Col. Tawfiq Tirawi, chief of Palestinian general security on the West Bank, were assembled by Yasser Arafat from two main elements:
1. Cadres of Palestinian terrorists released from Israeli prisons in accordance with the 1993 Oslo Peace accords. They swore revenge against Israel.
2. The dregs of Palestinian gangland, the murderers, robbers, rapists, rustlers and thieves, who instead of seeing the inside of Palestinian Authority jails were reinvented as national heroes.
With guns and paychecks from Yasser Arafat, this force has become the dominant element of the Palestinian Authority’s security force. The other Palestinian terrorist bodies, the Fatah-Tanzim, Force 17, Hamas, Jihad Islami and the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine, were reduced to subsidiary roles.
With this force at his command, Arafat also kept Palestinian society quiescent under his rule. Would-be dissidence from politicians, intellectuals and financial circles, quickly melted away for fear of Arafat’s private army of thugs.
Because the violent and obedient al Aqsa Brigades are the central pool from which Arafat draws his terrorists and suicide killers, they must be liquidated as a first priority.
This can be accomplished –
1. By depriving their master, Arafat, and direct commander,Tawfiq Tirawi, of the power to issue their orders;
2. By choking off their funding.
As long as Arafat has this force at his bidding, he can keep the suicide-terror offensive running. Totally isolating him as Sharon refrained from doing in April, despite his solemn avowals, would leave the al Aqsa Brigades headless and without operational orders. It would also leave them starved of funds, which come from the same source as their orders. They would therefore be unwilling to give their services to any other master.
Without Arafat in control of his fortune, the flow of money to the al Aqsa Brigades would dry up and the Palestinian suicide-terror offensive, gradually peter out.
25 June: Ten days before President George W. Bush told the Palestinians to remove their leaders if they wanted a state (on June 24), an intelligence report landing on his desk informed him that Arafat had jumped the gun on the presidential statement. Instead of instituting democratic reforms, the Palestinian leader had overhauled and recharged his terror command structure in readiness for a savage terrorist offensive intended to reach also US targets in Israel and the Middle East.
In remolding his terror command, Arafat had two objectives:
First, to pack it with terror operatives whose personal loyalty to him is above question;
Second, to make sure the different arms of his terror machine are smoothly synchronized.
Another of the report’s disclosures refers to the serious decline in Arafat’s health in recent months. He is said to suffer from prostate cancer requiring surgery, as well as the threat of cerebral edema.
The fact stressed in this intelligence report is that, from the moment he was faced with demands to reform his administration, the Palestinian leader dropped all the top aides the American and Israeli media cited as would-be candidates for key roles in the reformed government and security services: Axed were Mohamed Dahlan, head of the preventive security apparatus in the Gaza Strip, his opposite number on the West Bank, Jibril Rajoub, for his close ties with Americans and Israelis, and Arafat’s personal financial adviser, Muhammed Rashid. The followers of Dahlan, Rajoub and the Fatah West Bank secretary arrested by Israel, Marwan Barghouti, were all sacked.
They were replaced by trusted veterans. The key names are revealed here by DEBKAfile‘s counter-terror and intelligence sources:
Salim Zaanun, 70: The Palestinian National Council chairman, who lives permanently in Amman.
His new task: Management of Arafat’s connections with the Hamas and Jihad Islami commands in Damascus and Lebanon.
Maher Ghanem, 60: Chef de bureau of Palestinian foreign minister Farouk Kadoumi (who never accepted the Oslo 1993 Accords).
His new task: Zaanun’s operational liaison in Damascus with the radical Hamas, Jjhad Islami, and Ahmad Jibril’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command.
Tayeb Abd a-Rahim, 56 : Palestinian Authority Secretary
His new task: Coordinator between the Gaza Strip and West Bank terror operations of the Hamas, Jihad Islami and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Saher Habash, 75: Head of the multi-group Intifada Committees.
His new task: Supreme coordinator between Salim Zaanun, Maher Ghanem and Tayeb Abd a-Rahim, and the only one reporting directly to Arafat.
Also in charge of Arafat’s most secret terrorist connections, those he maintains with the Lebanese Hizballah.
Feisal Abu Shrah, 65: Commander of Force 17’s terror operations. He is senior to –
Muhamed Damra, 48: Commander of Ramallah contingent of Force 17, Arafat’s personal guard, and the defenses at the Palestinian leaders’ headquarters. Damra is senior officer of the Ramallah government center’s security detail.
His new task: To maintain direct lines of communication between Arafat and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards posted in Lebanon and the Hizballah secretary Hassan Nasrallah.
Damra is also controller of the Hizballah cells operating under cover in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. His direct commander is Saher Habash; he has no access to Arafat.
Col. Tawfiq Tirawi, 49: Arafat’s most trusted terror operative. Pro forma head of general security on the West Bank, Tirawi retains his clandestine duties as chief of the terrorist arm of Arafat’s Fatah organization – al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades – and is the senior connecting link between his boss and Iraqi military intelligence headquarters in Baghdad as well as its agents in Amman, Ramallah and other parts of the West Bank.
Rashid Abu Shbak, 42: Officially, Dahlan’s second in command in the Gaza Strip security service.
His new task: Director of the Gaza Strip joint terror operational command shared by Fatah, Force 17, elements of the various Palestinian “security” services, Hamas, the PFLP and the Jihad Islami.
Bush’s move against Arafat and his regime has an unspoken significance: He has virtually lumped them in with his original “axis of evil”, alongside Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Syrian President Bashar Assad is but a step away from joining this black list. When the US president orders military action in the Middle East to go forward, every regional member of this axis will be targeted by American might. Clearly, the US president is now as determined to remove Arafat is he is to get rid of Saddam Hussein and Nasrallah.