Israel forces in hot pursuit of Fatah defectors to pro-Hamas militia on West Bank. debkafile first disclosed 40 pc breakaway from al Aqsa Brigades
Tuesday night, May 29, Israeli forces pinned down and killed the breakaway militia’s Jenin chief Muhammad Marai. A few hours later, Israeli troops fought a Hamas squad hurling explosives and grenades in Tulkarm. 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.
Tuesday, debkafile‘s counter-terror sources reported:
More than 40 pc of Fatah-al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades on the West Bank have rebelled against Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) and his senior adviser Mohammed Dahlan and established a separate suicide terrorist militia. The Martyr Abu Amar (Yasser Arafat) Brigades now obeys Hamas Gaza chiefs Hussein Hijaz and Abu Hilas (Abu Maher). They also take orders, as well as explosive supplies and funds, from the Lebanese Hizballah.
debkafile quotes Israeli military and intelligence sources as rating this split as extremely dangerous. It affords Hamas a prime strategic asset for escalating its violent campaign against Israel.
Hamas managed in the middle of its factional war with Fatah to infiltrate the opposition’s West Bank strongholds and persuade a large faction to establish a Hamas-controlled militia. Israel did not prevent this happening.
The result, our counter-terror experts report, is a Hamas launching pad on the West Bank, previously controlled by Fatah, for a mass suicide bombing offensive against central Israel, projected by the Iran-backed Hamas as the next stage of its missile campaign from Gaza. The new Martyr Abu Amar Brigades have been given orders to gear up to stage multiple suicide truck bombings, Iraq style, in Israel’s main cities.
Sunday, May 27, they captured Khaled Shawish, who was important enough in the Fatah terrorist hierarchy to hide for years in the Palestinian Authority compound in Ramallah, after engineering numerous terrorist attacks, including the Dec. 31, 2000 murder of Binyamin and Talia Cahane. Recently, he was involved in shooting attacks in the West Bank.
Monday, the brother of Zakariah Zubeidi, the notorious Fatah commander of Jenin, was picked up. He had been acting as intermediary between the al Aqsa Brigades and the rebels; a leading Fatah defector was killed in a village near Jenin. Tuesday, Israel forces detained Jamil Tirawi in Nablus. He is the son of Tawfiq Tirawi, Arafat’s faithful lieutenant, who was a co-founder of the al Aqsa Brigades, Fatah’s suicide strike force.
The revolt against Abu Mazen and Dahlan, instigated by Hamas and backed by Hizballah, is spreading.
The influential Fatah-Tanzim terrorist leader, Marwan Barghouti, has endorsed the defection from his Israel cell, where he is serving six life sentences for murdering Israeli civilians in terrorist attacks.
Another supporter is Jibril Rajoub, former preventive security chief on the West Bank, and rival of Dahlan.
The Fatah mutiny has awarded Hamas strike force and terrorist networks stretching from Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip to Jenin in the northern West Bank. It is described by Israeli security sources as the gravest terrorist threat Israel has faced since its 2002 Defensive Wall operation broke Arafat’s terrorist infrastructure. Abu Mazen’s rule has never been in greater peril.
Israeli prime minister could not have chosen a more unfortunate moment to yield to Washington’s pressure and announce talks next week with Abbas. All the Palestinian leader needs now is a meeting with Ehud Olmert as he battles for authority over his increasingly radicalized and mutinous Fatah.