DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 27, 2005
Israeli prime minister Aril Sharon's victory over his longtime rival and predecessor Binyamin Netanyahu is unquestioned, notwithstanding its narrow margin - 104 out of a nearly 3,000 ruling Likud central committee members. In 1996, Netanyahu wrested the premiership from Labor's Shimon Peres by a few thousand, but even an edge of one vote counts as a win.
But Sharon's triumph does not prove that the right-of-center party has embraced his guiding principles, as his spokesmen are claiming. The losing side led by Netanyahu and the anti-evacuation rebel leader MK Uzi Landau did after all garner very close to 50% of the vote, nearly doubling the Likud anti-evacuation rebels' strength. The rift cutting through the heart of Sharon's party since last year when he first broached his disengagement plan is more unbridgeable than ever.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 24, 2005
The Palestinian-Israel war has blown up in force five weeks after Israel evacuated all its civilians from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank - 12 days after pulling its troops out of Gaza and one day after they exited the northern West Bank - as though nothing had changed.
The scenario was not unexpected; it was plotted by Palestinian terror chiefs.
It began when Israel failed to fight off Palestinian attacks in the course of the evacuations. That operation was plagued by shooting attacks, roadside bombs, Qassam missiles and grenade attacks on troops pulling out of the Philadelphi border route. Israel's defense minister and generals promised "zero tolerance" for Palestinian attacks - but sat on their hands.
There is no explanation of why Israel omitted to make Egypt's liquidation of the lethal stocks a condition for handing over the Philadelphi route to Egyptian border police?
Up to this minute, the border remains wide open for the free passage of terrorists and smugglers.
According to debkafile's military sources, this open door enabled the Hamas and Jihad Islami to beef up their manpower and weapons resources by one third. Incredibly, the Palestinian Authority purchased some of the smuggled goods.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 19, 2005
Even before he set out for home Monday, Sept. 19, Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon charged into combative mode against his political adversaries, using a New York meeting with Jewish leaders as his platform. He declared he had lost the majority of the party he founded because of the "lies and terrible incitement of a minority which opposed the Gaza evacuations."
The heating up of the race between Sharon and Netanyahu may even help Landau run off with the party chairmanship and prime ministerial candidacy in the Likud primaries.
He is the quintessential Mr. Clean, a rare asset that may attract the general voter even more than his being vindicated in his dire prophecies of a breakdown in national security.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 17, 2005
The list obtained by debkafile's exclusive military and intelligence sources, contains -
1. 3,000 automatic rifles. The new supply, most of which is destined for Hamas, gives the organization a total of 10,000 Kalashnikovs, enough for thousands of new recruits.
2. Hundreds of AT-23 Sagger anti-tank missiles.
3. SAM-14 Strela anti-air missiles - quantity unknown.
debkafile's sources can reveal how and where they are getting their lethal merchandise. Iranian and Hizballah agents - as well as al Qaeda buyers - are using their contacts with local gangs of arms traffickers in Serbia, Slovakia, Montenegro, Croatia and Kosovo, to fill Palestinian stores with new weaponry.
The Palestinian Authority's security personnel and Egyptian border police are turning a blind eye to the flow of the tools of war across the border.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 14, 2005
The sights and scenes in Gaza Strip immediately after the Israeli troop pullback Monday, Sept 12, filled Israel's defense leaders with dread. Total loss of control was manifested by the Palestinian Authority and the Egyptian border police, who stood by as tens of thousands of Palestinians indulged in a wild orgy of destruction, burning, looting and hurling themselves back and forth across the Gazan-Egyptian border unchecked.
Long months of painstaking negotiations with Egypt, the Palestinians and the United States for coordination on post-evacuation security were trampled underfoot. IDF sources estimated Tuesday night, Sept 13, that in two days, about 20,000 Palestinians had flocked into Egyptian Sinai from the Gaza Strip - most intending to stay there - and 3,000 Palestinians had crossed into the Gaza Strip.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 11, 2005
The most intriguing question is what led Shaul Mofaz to raise the flag of mutiny against the prime minister. For eighteen months, his obedience has been almost machinelike. He activated the army against Israeli civilians for the first time in its history, lent a hand to the purging of the high command and tied the hands of military intelligence, lest they obstruct Sharon's disengagement plans for Gaza Strip.
He claims truthfully that his observant religious background held him back from sending Jews to destroy synagogues. But looking beyond this claim, debkafile's analysts find a more likely cause: he felt his loyalty had been rewarded with a kick in the teeth when Sharon last week abruptly snatched security responsibility for the Gaza Strip from the defense ministry and handed it to vice prime minister, Labor leader Shimon Peres.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 7, 2005
The assassination of Moussa Arafat was obviously well-planned and carefully staged. According to debkafile's counter-terror sources, the crime bears the hallmark of Palestinian minister for civilian affairs Mohammed Dahlan and his sidekick, Gaza preventive security chief Rashid Abu Shebak, two would-be Gaza strongmen who are no strangers to violence. Suspicion is strong that they contracted the Popular Committees' Salahedin Brigades for the slaying.
Scores of armed men dragged the former Palestinian military intelligence chief and head of national security forces in the Gaza Strip from his home, shot him dead and abducted his son Manhal. The fact that a large band of armed men was allowed to pump 23 bullets into Arafat's body - whereas none of his bodyguards suffered a scratch - bespeaks betrayal and conspiracy.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 30, 2005
US president George W. Bush, Ariel Sharon and Mahmoud Abbas are certain the Israeli government did the right thing in uprooting Israel's civilian presence from the Gaza Strip ahead of the final pullback of troops on Sept. 15.
But their gratification is likely to be short-circuited. The level of Palestinian terror is climbing day by day, and the first post-evacuation suicide attack has already taken place in Beersheba. Israeli troops are still in Gaza demolishing Israeli homes and dismantling their installations - and already they are targeted by the gunmen of the first outside Palestinian terror group to arrive from Lebanon.
Palestinian violence will fuel Netanyahu's chances of toppling Sharon - unless the government shows it can fight back.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 27, 2005
Failing a government or Knesset veto of the still unsigned Israel-Egyptian military protocol, the Sharon government will make Egypt two if not three strategic gifts: naval control over the territorial waters off the Gaza Mediterranean coast up to Ashekelon, for one. A second unpublished clause will place within range of Egyptian air force surveillance Israel's big air forces bases in the Negev and its armored and ground forces' deployment around the evacuated Gaza Strip.
These clauses have been withheld from the public, cabinet ministers and Knesset members. Sunday, August 27, the cabinet will be asked to approve the protocol; the Knesset's ratification will be sought Wednesday, August 31.
These sweeping Israeli concessions are set forth in a secret appendix to the military protocol. They are the price prime minister Ariel Sharon and defense minister Shaul Mofaz are willing to pay Cairo for relieving the Israeli army's of its security missions on the Gaza-Egyptian border.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 21, 2005
At an urgent weekend consultation, US, British, Egyptian, Jordanian and Israeli intelligence and counter-terror officials concluded that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's terror teams now pose an imminent threat to Israel. The Katyusha rocket which landed harmlessly near Israel's Eilat airport across from Jordanian Aqaba on Friday, Aug 19, was not a stray from the volley aimed at the two US naval vessels docked in the Jordanian Red Sea port. It was Zarqawi's first direct attack against Israel and it was aimed at its southernmost airport.
Since those attacks, Jordan, Egypt and Israel have put their sea and air ports and essential installations on high terror alert. Washington quietly barred new danger zones to US diplomats and military officers serving in those countries: Aqaba, all of Jordan south of Amman up to the Saudi border, the Jordan River bridge crossings between Israel and Hashemite kingdom, the southern Israeli highway to the Red Sea port of Eilat across from Aqaba, and the Eilat resort.
All these locations are now rated as high risk of terror attack. According to incoming intelligence data, the Zarqawi network has pumped fresh terror teams into Jordan.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 19, 2005
The tale of the acid attack by disorderly evacuation resisters against Israeli troops and police was born on the spur of the moment amid the noise and clamor of the evacuation of Kfar Darom synagogue in the Gaza Strip Thursday, Aug 18.
It was picked up without any sort of investigation with suspicious speed. Live broadcasts from the scene reportedly hysterically that six ambulances had rushed the injured police officers to hospital.
Friday afternoon, Aug 19, Michael Eytan, chairman of the Knesset law committee, published a furious protest against "the acid lie." He called it "a blood libel" designed to mar the atmosphere of restraint and mutual sympathy that had prevailed in the evacuation operation till then.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 17, 2005
The massed divisions of troops and police officers quickly saw that there were too many of them for the task ahead. The uniformed men had braced for violent resistance. Instead they were greeted with prayers, laments, outpourings of bitter outrage and chorused recitations of Psalms.
The soldiers must have asked themselves: What happened to the "violent extremists," the loonies they had been taught for more than a year to confront? And why were 40,000 combat troops called up to evict a few thousand civilians, half children, who had clearly no plans of physical resistance?
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 17, 2005
United Nations Headquarters in New York has quietly ordered all foreign staff, especially UN Refugees Works and Relief Agency personnel, to depart the Gaza Strip by Wednesday, August 17. The world body estimates any workers remaining in Palestinian areas, especially those adjoining Gush Katif, face extreme danger after the evacuations begin first thing Wednesday morning. Most significantly, Washington reversed its 20-month ban on US diplomats' visits to the Gaza Strip to urgently dispatch a top official, US assistance secretary of state David Welch, for a surprise visit to Gaza Tuesday night. US intelligence confirms the UN estimate of the extreme security danger prevalent in the Gaza Strip. It stems from Palestinian Authority chairman Mahamoud Abbas having fallen completely under the sway of the Hamas and the Jihad Islami, which are vying with each other for first grab of evacuated Israeli properties ahead of any claim by the Palestinian Authority. Both have especially drilled guerrilla units lurking close to Gush Katif ready to pounce on their prey, each other and above all, Israeli targets.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 10, 2005
There is no doubt that Abu Mazen has done a lot better than the late Arafat who never dreamed of fulfilling so many dreams. When he spoke of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem its capital, Abbas was not talking out of his hat.
Although not a word of this has been leaked thus far, Orient House, the symbol of Palestinian Authority sovereign rule in East Jerusalem, has reopened for business for the first time in four years. In 2001, this symbol was demonstratively shut down on the orders of the first Sharon government. Now, the Palestinian leader has jumped the gun and set his brand on Jerusalem, the seat of the Israeli government, ahead of peace negotiations or any talks with Israel on the profoundly controversial Jerusalem issue.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 7, 2005
The big day for Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon is Wednesday, August 10. He will then find out if his huge gamble in pushing ahead, through thick and thin, with Israel's pull-out from the Gaza Strip and part of the northern West Bank, comes up trumps. He has staked painful concessions, national unity and personal credibility on winning a big prize, but clearly believes it is worth the candle. That prize is a US-British-French initiative for a UN Security Council resolution declaring the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip at an end. It all depends on the Quartet coordinator James Wolfensohn announce his mission a success.
But there is till one Palestinian demand that Sharon has resisted so far, upon which the entire scheme stands or falls: the Palestinians are holding out for the Gaza-West Bank corridor to be free of Israeli searches or the right to unload freight and travelers that hazard its security. Wolfensohn goes along with the Palestinian contention that Israeli authority to conduct such searches would nullify their sovereignty over the Gaza Strip and therefore not terminate the Israeli occupation
On the other hand, Israel's security chiefs, the Shin Beit's Yuval Diskin and AMAN's Maj-Gen. Aharon Zeevi, are aghast at prospect of forfeiting this vital anti-terror measure.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 3, 2005
Tuesday, August 2, Al Qaeda claimed the establishment of a Gaza branch called "Al Qaeda-Palestine, Jihad Brigades in the Border Land." (This is an al Qaeda locution meaning warfront.) The announcement, accompanied by a video tape, appeared on Websites normally reserved for releases on major al Qaeda strikes, such as the Madrid, London and Saudi bombing attacks and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's operations in Iraq. It is therefore to be taken seriously. The statement came out three days after the debkafile exclusive disclosure of al Qaeda's purported theological grounds for attacking Israel, as expounded in its new monthly magazine, From the Tip of the Camel's Hump.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 1, 2005
Shown above is the cover of al Qaeda's new print-Internet magazine Zerwat al Sanam, - Tip of the Camel's Hump. A lavishly produced, professionally-edited publication, it reads as though Iraq commander Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was dictating his operational creed - yet another indication of his high rank in al Qaeda's hierarchy.
A five-page essay appearing under the transparent alias of Abu Zubeida al-Baghdadi is titled: How should Islam relate to the Jews? This is the first time this question has been discussed in theological terms in any al Qaeda publication. The Jews have learned and must still learn, says al Baghdadi, that there is no victory without sacrifice. [Al Qaeda's followers, in contrast, are ready at all times to make personal sacrifices].
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report July 28, 2005
French president Jacques Chirac lavished brilliant fanfare and ceremonial warmth on a rare visitor to Paris, Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, when he arrived Wednesday, July 28, on a state visit to France. The ice-breaking symbolism was just that, no more than a thin veneer over the true state of Franco-Israel relations and the difficulties besetting the two leaders.Chirac's approval rating at home has plummeted to just over 33%, an unpopularity record unmatched by any previous French president in office. He is beleaguered at home and isolated in Europe.
US officials are privately referring to Disengagement B and Disengagement C which would entail the destruction of entire Israeli towns, Maaleh Adumim outside Jerusalem and Ariel further north. To soften up the Israeli government, sanctions have been in force for some months against Israel's security and military organizations whose performance has begun to show damage.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report July 19, 2005
Hamas operatives are under orders to fire on Palestinian Authority security officers coming to arrest them and call the local people out on the street to hem them in. Monday and Tuesday, July 18-19, saw a certain slackening of Palestinian attacks on Israeli targets, compared with the preceding five days. What the terrorist leaders, led by Hamas, are keeping their powder relatively dry for is a mass Israeli target in the form of the anti-disengagement march, which was supposed to reach the Kissufim checkpoint at the entrance to the Gaza Strip Wednesday, July 20.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report July 15, 2005
The disorders of this week in and around the Gaza Strip make talk of truce and Israeli pull-backs sound surreal.
From Thursday, July 14, Palestinian terrorists have kept up a steady missile and mortar bombardment of Sderot and the moshavim and kibbutzim of southwestern Israel while challenging Palestinian security forces in bloody clashes. The violence surged with the arrival in Gaza of Mahmoud Abbas for a hopeless effort to assert control and revive the shattered truce he guaranteed last February in Sharm al Sheikh.
As he stood by helpless to halt the violence, Israeli air force helicopters revived the discontinued targeted killings of Hamas terrorist leaders, striking in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. The Israeli army and police meanwhile grappled with acts of defiance on the part of the Gaza Strip's West Bank communities destined for evacuation.