Acting on direct orders from Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian special forces raided the nine PA-ruled towns of the West Bank in the past 48 hours and detained 500 Hamas suspects, debkafile’s military sources report. Abbas ordered the operation after discovering that Hamas had been hatching a plot for some weeks to stage an armed insurrection against the Palestinian Authority, starting in one of the Palestinian towns – possibly even the PA capital of Ramallah. They would assassinate him in the process of the coup.
Of late, Abbas has kept his distance from Ramallah and his seat of government and spends most of his time traveling in foreign countries, especially Arab capitals, where he feels safer under the protection of foreign security services than he does at home.
The wave of detentions from Sunday to Tuesday (March 9-10) is the most extensive the Palestinian Authority has ever conducted against Hamas' West Bank cells. Not only prominent figures and known terror activists were taken into custody but also new figures.
Abbas ordered the operation amid a serious dilemma over his personal security.
Before him were reports presented by Palestinian Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Majed Faraj revealing the preparations in train for his assassination, an event that would signal mass riots orchestrated by Hamas and Jihad Islami, leading up to the seizure of government from the Palestinian Authority – much as they did in the Gaza Strip.
At the same time, Abbas does not entirely trust Palestinian security services or their ability to safeguard him and his regime in Ramallah.
He therefore turned to Israel, touching off an IDF response that had nothing to do with Israel’s forthcoming general election on March 17 – as government opponents have claimed.
The 3,000 IDF soldiers plus 10,000 reservists called up this week were not posted on the West Bank to practice anti-riot tactics for putting down Palestinians disturbances against Jewish settlements – as reported. They were placed on the ready in case it was necessary to go into Palestinian towns and save them from being overrun by the radical Hamas and Jihad Islami.
The Israeli troops also rehearsed a possible scenario that might ensue from the murder of Mahmoud Abbas.
In view of the highly sensitive security situation on the West Bank, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu accompanied by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, paid a rare visit to the IDF’s Judea-Samaria command headquarters Tuesday, March 10, to inspect these preparations.
It was the Hamas conspiracy to seize power in Ramallah that prompted Ya’alon’s enigmatic remark that were it not for preemptive military operations, central Israel might now be under missile and mortar attack.
debkafile’s military sources add that way the Palestinian issue has become a football for kicking around Israel’s election campaign, making it hard to penetrate the fog of anti-government propaganda and establish what is really going on.
For example, Netanyahu is being presented by his rivals as having agreed at a former stage in US-brokered peace negotiations with the Palestinians to withdraw to behind the 1967 lines. They have picked out one of the many papers drawn up by the Americans and discarded in the course of the negotiations – this one was written by a Shiite Iraqi academic in Oxford University and was never approved either by Israel or the Palestinians.
Turning to the real events afoot today, our sources also reveal that the PA chairman has asked Netanyahu through back-channels for a secret rendezvous somewhere in Europe. He proposed avoiding prominent capitals like London, Paris or Berlin, but meeting at a smaller venue for the sake of confidentiality.
Abbas also insisted that this meeting must be concealed from Washington, especially from Secretary of State John Kerry.
The Israeli prime minister has turned him down – and not just because the Palestinian request finds him in the middle of a tough race for re-election.