Mohammed Deif’s Phony “Jailbreak” Breaks Every Palestinian Promise

Almost every word published about the arch terrorist and commander of the hardline Islamic Hamas military wing, Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, is part of the smoke and mirrors campaign spun by his good friend Mohammad Dahlan, chief of the Yasser Arafat’s Preventative Security Service. Therefore all the accounts of his detention, arrest, imprisonment, release – and now escape – must be taken with more than a grain of salt. Dahlan, who grew up with Deif in Khan Yunis, regards him as a blood brother. He looked after him from the time he escaped to Gaza in 1996, in flight from Israeli justice for a long list of terrorist bombings. Since Dahlan does not blow his nose without permission from Arafat, it goes without saying that the Hamas militant has been living under the protection of the Palestinian leader himself. The Israeli government, from Shimon Peres to Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, have consistently denying this circumstance, tacitly abetting in the immunity granted him. For four years, Israeli officials in private conversation with Arafat said they knew that Deif was living in a villa in Gaza under the protection of Preventative Security agents. However, they refrained from requesting his extradition, although he is suspected of having caused more than forty deaths through the terrorist operations he masterminded. They said they would be satisfied if he were at least placed behind bars in a Palestinian Authority jail. Even this mild request was shrugged off by the Palestinians.
Last April, three months before the Camp David summit, first reports reached Israeli intelligence that Mohammed Deif was back in harness as his friend Dahlan’s right arm in organizing the “Shadow” units (See separate item on this page). Israel complained to Washington and to the CIA director George Tenet, who headed a trilateral liaison mechanism for averting terrorism. The Americans who were then intent on setting up the Israel-Palestinian summit chaired by President Clinton at Camp David, asked Israel to be patient and promised the President himself would attend to the question. This he did, echoed by Tenet, and obtained a promise from Arafat to personally see Deif jailed. Before Arafat left for Camp David, Def was indeed moved out of his villa…to another villa. Arafat explained to the Americans and the Israelis that this second house was used by his Preventative Security Service
as a secret detention and interview facility – just like the “detention villas” used in Colombia to interrogate drug barons.
Israeli officials sat quiet as long as they thought they knew where Mohammed Deif was kept. Believing him to be with Dahlan, they assumed he was under Arafat’s control. The Israeli air raid over Gaza three weeks ago therefore left the Deif villa untouched. However, when in late November, the Hamas terrorist was reported missing, Israeli officials realized they had been hoodwinked again. They also became seriously worried. Deif is one of the most dangerous terrorists in the trade. He is thought to have been behind the suicide bombings in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv between February and March 1996, as well as the kidnapping and killing of soldiers, including Nachshon Waxman. If Dahlan has moved his friend to the West Bank, he may well be the lynchpin of a fresh wave of terrorist attacks; if abroad, he may be mounting a campaign of terror against Jewish, American and Israeli overseas targets; if smuggled into Jordan, he is capable of stirring up an intifada there too, or attacking Israeli interests in the kingdom.
When the question came up in last Saturday’s telephone conversation between President Clinton and PM Ehud Barak, the Israeli prime minister asked rhetorically how he could ever again trust Arafat, when he had broken his repeated personal word to keep Deif locked up and prevented from dealing in terror. He demanded that the Islamic terrorist be found and his actions uncovered. Clinton is reported to have got on the phone to Arafat and actually yelled at him to bring Deif back – impressing even on the Palestinian leader that he had gone too far. The result was Thursday morning’s announcement that the Chairman wants Deif found – alive or dead!
Whether or not he is in fact recovered, the main question is: What directives did he receive before he went missing? This Islamic fanatic has a fearful capacity for sowing death.

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