Arafat Will Not Let Palestinian Terror Disappear from World TV Screens
The inhabitants of north Jerusalem were not surprised by the shooting attack at the key French Hill junction Sunday afternoon, in which two teenagers, Shoshana Ben-Yishai, 16, and Menashe Regev, 14, were killed and dozens injured. The Palestinian gunman from Hebron sprayed automatic M-16 fire on the bus heading for Neve Yaacov and the passengers waiting to board it – until gunned down himself by two border police patrolling nearby. This pattern, seen before at the same crowded Jerusalem junction, has become a recurring one in the last few weeks, with Palestinian gunmen shooting indiscriminately at bus queues in downtown Afula and Hadera.
Sometimes one group takes “credit”, sometimes another, but the pattern is an overall one that is plotted at the highest level of the Palestinians Authority. For more than a fortnight now, automatic fire has been heard through most of the day in Jerusalem’s northern districts of Ramat Shelomo, French Hill, Pisgat Zeev and Neve Yaacov. It comes from the adjacent Arab neighborhoods and Palestinian villages. No one explains what is going on. Much of the shooting is heard from the large Jerusalem village of Issawiyeh, which commands French Hill, MountScopus (site of the Hebrew University and Hadassah hospital), their approach roads and the heavy traffic moving up and down the Jerusalem-Maaleh Adumim highway at all hours. Although included in municipal Jerusalem, Israeli police officers never venture to go into Issawiyeh without substantial backup. Limited searches have turned up assorted arsenals of deadly weapons in every home, including heavy machine guns.
A similar situation prevails in Issawiyeh’s northern neighbor Sheofat-East, where Hizballah and Hamas flags fly undisturbed over homes around the mosque and the school. Every night, automatic weapons rattle and flash at the “Coca Cola” junction between Sheofat-East and the north Jerusalem road junction attacked Sunday afternoon, no more than half a kilometer away.
The highway linking French Hill and Ramot has seen two deadly drive-by shootings in recent months. The police failed to apprehend most of the Beit Hanina squad responsible. Palestinian spotters are repeatedly observed out on the crags overlooking the highway and wandering through the Jewish areas of north Jerusalem.
debkafile‘s intelligence sources shed light on the fragile security situation in the northern half of Jerusalem. Until six months ago, Jibril Rajub, head of the West Bank Preventive Security service, and his men controlled the Jerusalem area. Israeli authorities, including foreign minister Shimon Peres and perhaps also the Shin Beit, as well as the European diplomats who busy themselves with the conflict, pinned high hopes on Rajub as a positive Palestinian force capable of reining in Palestinian violence.
However, in recent weeks, Rajub and his men were displaced in the sector by the wild elements run by his rival, Tawfiq Tirawi, Palestinian General Intelligence Chief in the West bank, who is Yasser Arafat’s senior terror master. Tirawi has taken over most of Jerusalem including the OldCity and TempleMount. He is under orders to keep the level of terrorism high in Israel’s capital city.
Arafat’s blueprint is plain: Forced under US and European pressure to reduce the heat in Bethlehem and Beit Jala, to the south of Jerusalem, he turns it at the northern end of the city – but not only there. Largely unreported, the Palestinian have ringed fresh targets in the western Negev inside Israel. For the last few days, Palestinian firing positions in Gaza have been shelling Israeli towns, villages, kibbutzim and army bases with mortars and the new homemade Palestinian rocket, Kassem-1. This primitive weapon has an effective range of 5 km. Among its targets is the southern Israeli town of Sderot.
The last time Sderot was shelled earlier this year, the Israeli army launched a major operation in the northern Gaza Strip and captured the Palestinian town ofBeit Hanoun.
This time, however, the shelling is not even reported. The Palestinian’s rationale for keeping the violence level high, according to debkafile‘s Palestinian sources, is connected with the US war on terror. The New York Times ran an article Sunday explaining that for America to win the Muslims round to supporting its war on terror, the pictures of the Israeli-Palestinian war must disappear from TV screens.
That, according to our Palestinian sources, is just the opposite of Arafat’s wishes. He wants those pictures dancing on world television day and night, both to block out the footage devoted to Osama bin Laden and to thwart America’s bid for a Muslim constituency.
Since bin Laden began dominating international attention, Arafat has lost interest in gaining points with the American public; now he is fighting for the Muslim street.
Palestinian television therefore gloated over the Jihad Islami’s claim to have carried out the French Hill junction assault Sunday, one day after the United States and Britain added that very Palestinian group to their list of illegal terrorist organizations. The broadcast was a deliberate mockery of the two Western powers and their proclaimed war against terror.
To underline Palestinian contempt, the Al Aqsa Brigades (a euphemism for the Fatah gangs under Tirawi’s command) circulated a leaflet declaring the “Palestinian masses” would not surrender to the “American planes and tanks operated by Israel”. This sort of locution disappeared from Palestinian propaganda immediately after September 11. Now the Palestinians, riding bin Laden’s coattails, have returned to their triumphalist anti-American slogans.