Mofaz: Israel Owns Defensive and “Other” Capabilities Against Attack

Tuesday, two days before Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon was due to call on President George W. Bush in the White House, US Galaxy transports were seen landing at Ben Gurion international airport. debkafile‘s military sources report that the giant planes carried in fresh supplies for US military units stationed in Israel and Jordan. Another arrival Tuesday, February 5, was chief of Egyptian intelligence Gen. Omar Suleiman, with an urgent message from his worried president for Yasser Arafat, who has been confined by Israeli tanks in Ramallah for two months. Hosni Mubarak urgently demanded that Arafat call off his campaign of terror unconditionally and immediately.
In Washington, US secretary of state Colin Powell, addressing the Senate foreign affairs committee, called on Arafat to ensure that the arms smuggling attempt never recurred. He urged him to choose once and for all between violence and peace, because he can’t have both. Powell also advised Israel to ease the hardships of the Palestinian population and avoid escalation.
Arafat responded swiftly to those appeals. He repeated his rhythmic “millions of martyrs marching to Jerusalem” incantation, drawing cheers from an enthusiastic invited audience. Then, his Fatah-Tanzim unveiled its first homemade surface rockets, Aqsa-1 and Aqsa-2, a transparent attempt to vie with the Hamas’s Qasem-1 and still undeveloped Qasem-2.
Fatah spokesmen claimed proudly their new weapon had proved itself in the field by firing at the Israeli village of Netzer Hazani in the Gaza Strip. Its range, they claimed, was 15 km – an exaggeration of more than double. Fatah is also believed have laid in stocks of 122-mm Katyusha rockets – a much more dangerous weapon than the primitive Aqsa and Qasem. This hardware must be added to the hundreds of 70km missiles Iran has given the Lebanese Hizballah. Israel finds itself surrounded from north, south and east, by a bristling array of surface rockets and missiles, the manifestation of an intensifying partnership for terror between Tehran and Yasser Arafat.
In the Knesset Tuesday, February 5, Israeli chief of staff, Lt-Gen Shaul Mofaz cautioned against what he saw as a clear and disturbing interrelationship between the Palestinian Authority and Iran. In his briefing to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee in Jerusalem, Mofaz stated that the Palestinians’ hostile intentions remained unchanged. As for Iran, he said he did not see that country attacking Israel tomorrow, but its instigation, guidance and arming of anti-Israel terrorists must be taken in conjunction with its acclaimed ambition to wipe Israel off the map. The ayatollahs must not be allowed to attain a foothold in Palestinian areas. Asked if Israel was read for an Iraqi reprisal for an American offensive against Baghdad, Mofaz reported the country prepared its self-defense “and other” capabilities.
Last year, debkafile exposed the deepening collaboration between Arafat and the Hizballah, with Tehran’s blessing. A year ago, on February 12, 2001, werevealed the secret arrival of a small Iranian Revolutionary Guards delegation in Gaza, together with the first Hizballah cell Yasser Arafat invited to come and enhance Palestinian terror capabilities.
In the Israeli general’s estimation, Tehran’s ‘s efforts to achieve non-conventional weapons, together with its long-range missiles, represent an existential threat to Israel in the long term. In London, the London-based Arabic paper a-Sharq al-Awsat quoted revelations by Jordan’s King Abdullah II of Iranian-Palestinian efforts to strike at Israel – also from the east. The Jordanian ruler, in the White House last week, presented President Bush with evidence of an Iranian plot to use Palestinian Hamas and Jihad terrorists to mount missile and mortar attacks on Israel from his kingdom. Jordanian security had foiled seventy such attempts. Some of the weapons for these attacks were to have been smuggled in through Aqaba port.
debkafile, reporting on this development in DEBKA-Net-Weekly(No. 46 on January 25), elaborated on the smuggling route. From Aqaba, the weapons were to be picked up by undercover Iraqi military intelligence agents and passed on to Fatah and Hizballah militants hiding in the Palestinian refugee camps around Jordanian towns.
Egypt and Jordan have now come out publicly against Arafat and his plots with Tehran. They fear he is pushing the Palestinian flame across the borders into their countries and threatening their stability. Aware of the rising war tensions, America is making sure of ample military supplies. Arafat, though under siege in Ramallah, has no intention of going quietly and letting a successor take over.

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