The scale of the disaster is best measured by identifying the forces defeated by the Palestinian Islamist terrorist group’s conquest of the Gaza Strip in its five-day military blitz. The pro-Western army headed by Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestinian Authority and his mainstream Fatah, which the United States and Europe built, armed, trained and funded, has been utterly defeated and humiliated.
The Abbas project was shepherded personally by Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton, President George W. Bush’s security coordinator; it was generously supported and aided by the American Central Intelligence Agency and British MI6 Secret Service.
Hamas’ seizure of the Gaza Strip represents the worst political and military downfall the US and its allies have sustained in the Middle East since 2004, when Abu Musab al Zarqawi established an Islamic state for al Qaeda in large stretches of western and central Iraq, before he was finally killed.
Hamas needed less than a week for 15,000 gunmen, 6,000 of whom were well-trained and armed members of its Executive Force, to overwhelm 50,000 Palestinian Authority security personnel and Fatah militiamen.
Few of Hamas’ rivals were ready to fight. Most preferred to surrender or run away. In four years of savage warfare in Iraq, no case has been recorded of a body of tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers scattering to the four winds so completely and so fast.
After expelling the Palestinian Authority, Hamas proposes to establish a Palestinian Islamic caliphate in Gaza, true to its charter. The two-state solution beloved of Western peace mediators is a dead letter.
An unprecedented intelligence catastrophe
The gravest debacle of all has been suffered by US, British and Israeli intelligence services in their war on terror. It will take them many years to recover. Never before has a bonanza of Western intelligence secrets on this scale fallen into the hands of an implacably hostile Islamist terrorist gang.
The Fatah-led general intelligence and security services caved in too fast to shred, wipe or burn documents, computer disks and archives. The entire collection fell into Hamas hands. Even when the Nazi regime was defeated at the end of World War II and Eastern Germany fell in the 1990s, some officials made a desperate effort to destroy or hide as much as they could of their intelligence treasure.
Palestinian intelligence staffers did not burn a single page.
Hamas has taken possession of hundreds of thousands of documents cataloguing the clandestine operations of Western intelligence services in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and the oil emirates. They include complete archives of Palestinian undercover links with foreign intelligence services going back decades, with names of spies, political trustees and double agents. They cover the secret ties Palestinian intelligence maintained from the 1970s, when Yasser Arafat was based in Lebanon, with the Americans, the British, the French, the Israelis and many others.
In the Palestinian security service building, Hamas found computer hard disks covering years of undercover activity and a complete set of sophisticated wiretapping and surveillance equipment and sensors which the CIA and MI6 gave Mahmoud Abbas and his forces. It was all in perfect condition ready to switch on.
For Hamas, this booty is priceless. Its Syrian and Iranian sponsors will be ready to fork out a king’s ransom for this unique collection of explosive secrets for use against many a Western intelligence agency and government. Damascus and Tehran will be hugely empowered with the means to stay a jump ahead of American moves in the region and in a position to sabotage US policies at any time by exposing compromising information, as well as targeting secret agents.
Another outcome of the five deadly days in Gaza is the brutal severance of the Palestinian entity into two parts, the West Bank supported by the United States and Europe and the Gaza Strip backed by Damascus and Tehran.
Furthermore, chaotic, anarchic Gaza sunk in despair offers al Qaeda fertile soil for expanding the network already operating there and its influence among the Palestinian Salafi groups which are springing up.
The downfall of the Bush administration’s Palestinian strategy is shared by Israel’s government headed by Ehud Olmert. There is no escaping the fact that a second Somali-type failed state has risen on the Eastern Mediterranean coast, assisted passively at least by the West and Israel. Gaza City with its close to a million inhabitants is about to become the replica of Mogadishu.
Fear of the deadly Gaza Syndrome spreading to Iraq
The events of this week in Gaza may turn out to be a general rehearsal for the scenario threatening to unfold when American troops start leaving Iraq in the winter of 2007. Our intelligence sources report that this notion was not far from the minds of the Iranian, Syrian and Hizballah planners who configured Hamas’ winning tactics in Gaza this week.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s exclusive military sources reveal how those tactics worked:
1. Last week, prior to its final push, Hamas mobilized every jeep, pick-up and truck it could find in the Gaza Strip, mustering between 500 and 600 serviceable vehicles.
2. Thousands of Hamas Executive Force personnel were mounted on these vehicles. The rest stood by as an operations reserve force. Each militarized vehicle was converted into a mobile arsenal loaded with enough weapons – mortars, heavy machine guns, RPGs, pipe bombs and ordnance – to keep on fighting without returning to base for fresh supplies
Within hours, Hamas had captured the main north-south and east-west transport routes (see attached map) of the territory. Mahmoud Abbas’ Presidential Guard and Fatah units were immobilized, unable to move from place to place. Later, they found their lines of retreat blocked by Hamas’ control of these routes.
3. After seizing the main arteries, Hamas gunmen took over the high-rise roofs. These snipers, armed with mortars and heavy machine guns, doubled Hamas’ fire control over crossroads, city squares and key residential blocks.
4. Hamas gunmen on the ground were ordered to stay on the move and not take time off for sleep. They therefore darted from place to place along Gaza’s empty highways, hitting one Fatah target after another from prepared lists.
Thursday night, June 14, Hamas teams were still on the go after not sleeping for 72 hours.
5. Hamas lost no time in commandeering the strategic Philadelphi border route which forms the Gaza-Egyptian border (see map). It is also their main route of supply for smuggled guns, missiles and explosives, funneled by European and European gunrunners through Egyptian Sinai.
The rapidity of the first Hamas strike sent Abbas’ forces into battle trauma from which they never recovered.
Additional factors contributing to their defeat were bitter quarrels among Fatah’s top three field commanders on tactics and loyalist troops’ lack of discipline and defiance of their officers’ orders.
Wednesday, after four days of combat, Col. Adnan Qaisi, head of the Palestinian Presidential Guard, in which many millions of American dollars had been invested, finally ordered his forces to mount a counter-attack. Not a single officer or soldier obeyed him. Abbas’ adherents just melted away.