More than 2,000 Fatah defect to Hizballah, Iran’s first big Palestinian gain
Iran's Lebanese proxy, the Hizballah militia, has set up a Palestinian operations unit for 2,000 new recruits from the Lebanese Fatah, who came over in recent days full armed with their commander Col. Munir Maqdah, an important handler of the Fatah terrorist apparatus on the West Bank. Reporting this, debkafile's military sources add: The first major Palestinian defection to the Shiite Hizballah has given Iran and its proxy a large foot inside Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah organization and swelled Hizballah's fighting strength by some 15 percent.
Most of the defectors came from the big Ain Hilwa refugee town near the southern Lebanese port of Sidon.
Col. Munir Maqdah, commander of Fatah units in Ain Hilwa, carried the formal title of Commander of the Armed Struggle Units of Palestinian Forces in Lebanon.
Mahmoud Abbas reacted to the blow by signing orders expelling Maqdah from the Fatah along with dozens of Palestinians officers who followed him. He was forced to accept that Fatah-Lebanon's 5,000-man fighting strength has been pared down to 3,000 and its top officer ranks depleted.
The biggest loss was Maqdah, who maintained close ties with the Palestinian terrorist sleeper cells in the West Bank towns of Nablus and Jenin – mainly by means of large dollops of cash. His networks and contacts are now available to Tehran.
The renegade officer also acted as liaison between Fatah and al Qaeda's affiliates in Lebanon, such as Fatah al-Islam. His men took active part in more than one Katyusha rocket bombardment of northern Israel from South Lebanon.