Gaza Strip's Roman Catholic school and convent ransacked and looted during Hamas-Fatah fighting last Thursday
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 19, 2007
Crosses were broken, a statue of Jesus damaged and prayer books burnt at the Rosary Sisters School and nearby convent, said Father Manuel Musaliem head of the tiny Gaza community. Gunmen used the roof of the school near a key security HQ captured by Hamas and desecrated the convent. Fatah and Hamas trade blame for the vandalism.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 18, 2007
Mahmoud Abbas has good reason to rejoice over Ehud Olmert's strange celebration of the Hamas victory in Gaza as "a new peace opportunity," especially as the prime minister brings this message to his White House talks with President George W. Bush Tuesday, June 19.
The rest of the West is lamenting the fact a jihadist Islamic terrorist organization has acquired rule over a territory for the first time.
Abbas is making hay. His Fatah government installed in Ramallah Sunday, June 17, is already getting a shower of direct Western aid. The European Union has added its usual two bits of advice for Israel to add its support. The Palestinian leader has translated this advice into a list of extortionate concessions, which Israel previously denied as opening the door to suicidal terror in its cities.
Abbas means to demand the massive release of the most dangerous Palestinian security prisoners, including multiple murderers, and the sweeping removal of the West Bank checkpoints which screen and intercept potential bombers.
He was quick to grasp that Olmert in this mode will be openhanded enough to give him a fresh lease of life in the form of concessions to buy his passport to credibility in Palestinian eyes.
Salim Fayyad is sworn in as new Palestinian prime minister of Abbas-installed emergency government in Ramallah
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 17, 2007
Abbas has outlawed the Hamas militia.
Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh, whom Abbas sacked, insists the administration he heads is the rightful government.
Dismantling and looting continues at Gaza border posts as many try to escape. Hamas conducts witch hunt of Fatah supporters and impounds their property.
<span class="debka">debka</span><span class="file">file</span>'s Military sources: Iran and Syria are the winners of Hamas' military coup against Fatah in Gaza Strip<br/>
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 17, 2007
It was the second triumph in a week for a Palestinian force backed by Iran and Syria, after the Lebanese army failed in four weeks' combat to crush the pro-Syrian factions' barricaded in the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian camp near Tripoli in four weeks of combat.
Tuesday, Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah Palestinian Authority forces faced disaster. Their inevitable ejection from the Gaza Strip effectively severs Palestinian rule between Ramallah, where Fatah will have to fight to retain control of the West Bank and Gaza, dominated now by an Islamist Palestinian force manipulated from Tehran and Damascus
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 17, 2007
More and more Israeli commentators are frankly admitting that Israel's pull-out from Gaza in the summer of 2005 was an open invitation to the forces of radical Islam to set up house in the defenseless territory. Now, Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, foreign minister Tzipi Livni and the rest of their Kadima party who presided over that withdrawal are building new castles in the sky to vindicate that error.
Hamas has not triumphed, they say, but offered Israel the chance of a fresh start to separate Gaza, a mere "terrorist entity," from the West Bank. There, a Hamas-free regime led by Abbas is a fit partner for peace diplomacy.
With this fallacious thesis, Olmert is on his way to a three-day visit to the United States including talks with President George W. Bush as the White House Tuesday, June 17.
A former Israeli national security adviser Gen (ret.) Giora Eiland argues now that the influx of tons of smuggled weapons and explosives into Gaza Strip must be halted at any price. There is a real danger of Hamas importing reinforcements from Syria and Lebanon for its next offensive. Egypt will, as usual, stand aside.
Eiland was the only defense official at the time to oppose disengagement as a recipe for bringing Iran and al Qaeda to Israel's borders. Having been proved correct, he now proposes to limit the damage by recapturing the Philadelphi route and the southern outskirts of Palestinian Rafah, flatten the houses there and evict 15,000-20,000 people.
Mahmoud Abbas fires Hamas PM Haniyeh, dissolves Palestinian unity government, declares Gaza and West Bank emergency<br/>
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 15, 2007
debkafile reports: Thursday night, June 15, the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas took the final step of dissolving the Palestinian unity government, thereby splitting the Palestinian Authority into two mutually hostile segments, the Fatah-ruled entity in the West Bank and the Hamas region in the Gaza Strip.
Olmert government officials maintained the Gaza Strip can now be held to military and economic siege and cut off from Israel, while a reasonable Palestinian government will rise on the West Bank and be amenable to an accommodation with Israel. debkafile's Middle East sources say they are deluding themselves.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 14, 2007
14 June: Hamas seizes control of strategic Philadelphi enclave on Egyptian border and all Gaza's border crossings with Egypt and Israel. At least 35 people died in the fighting Wednesday. Any international force in Gaza will be resisted in the same way as an Israeli occupation army, said a Hamas spokesman Thursday, June 14.
Senior Israeli officers described the Hamas victory to debkafile as a greater misfortune for Israel than its Lebanon War setbacks. There, Hizballah was forced by Israeli military action to accept a UN ceasefire and international peacekeepers.
Hamas has no such incentive. In the case of Gaza, the winner takes all and can dictate terms. A radical Islamic enclave with a dominant Iranian-Syrian military presence has sprung up unopposed as a hostile reality on Israel's southwestern border. It has made the Israeli-Middle East Quartet's boycott an irrelevance.
<span class="debka">debka</span><span class="file">file</span> reports: Fatah-led Presidential Guard throw back 250 Hamas fighters in major battle over Karni goods crossing Tuesday
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 9, 2007
The three-hour gunfight was the biggest assault Hamas which heads the Palestinian government has ever mounted. Casualties were heavy though not admitted. Its assault on the strategic crossing was preceded by heavy rocket, RPG and mortar fire on the Presidential Guard headed by Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah.
IDF military sources told debkafile that it is a mistake to allow Hamas to assemble large contingents for aggression in the Gaza Strip. Had they seized the Karni crossing, they may have surged across the border.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 9, 2007
It was not supposed to happen. Three Palestinian terrorist groups broke through Israeli border fortifications from Gaza in broad daylight and raided an Israeli military position near the key Kissufim crossing Saturday, June 9. Their mission: to kill and kidnap Israeli troops.
Their mission failed. The IDF claims the position was unmanned and only a decoy. And troops on the spot quickly fought back and drove the invaders off.
Produced by the Israel Armament Development Authority Rafael as a defensive system, See-Shoot uses sensors, aerial drones and surveillance aircraft to feed data to fortified command centers which transmit them to towers from which weapons automatically open fire on approaching targets.
The system is the brainchild of chief of staff Lt. Gen Gaby Ashkenazi and his predecessor Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz.
Three weeks ago, Ashkenazi requested and was authorized to install the new system after receiving a warning from military intelligence that a Palestinian kill-and-kidnap assault like the one attempted Saturday, June 9, was plotted.
See-Shoot was designed to stop a raid of this kind in its tracks.
It did not.
A fundamentalist Islamic group in Gaza threatens to behead "immodestly clad" Palestinian television woman announcers <br/>
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 4, 2007
The threat came from the Swords of Truth, a group which has blown up Internet cafes and music shops in Gaza amid a growing climate of terror and radicalism in the Palestinian territory. One announcer said she is terrified to go to work.
<span class="debka">debka</span><span class="file">file</span> Exclusive: Hamas's new, extended-range, high-powered missiles go into service against Israeli populations<br/>
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 30, 2007
Their crews have taken to firing the upgraded weapons out of Gaza's Palestinian refugee camps, using the inmates as human shields to ward off the Israeli Air Force instead of deploying them in the North. By using standard explosives, the upgraded weapons pack an extra punch and fly deeper into Israel.
One of these upgraded missiles, which exploded Friday night in Sderot's Neve Eshkol neighborhood blasted every flat in a four-story residential building, spreading fragments over a wide area with the effect of a cluster bomb.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 27, 2007
This threat was issued by Abu Obeida Saturday after the Israeli air force struck another four Hamas targets, killing 5 members of the Hamas Executive Force and injuring 18. Hamas reports that Israel has destroyed all ten Executive Force command posts in the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian radical groups warn Israeli locations north of Sderot, including Ashkelon, to prepare for missile attacks. Hamas activates West Bank cells for suicide operations
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 26, 2007
The warning to Ashkelon and points north of Gaza came from Jihad Islami and Popular Resistance Groups as well as Hamas.
debkafile also reports: Hamas military chief Mohammed Jabari has instructed all West Bank cells to launch suicide attacks in Israeli towns forthwith.
Sniper teams are directed to target roads on West Bank as well as Jerusalem and the Sharon district. The order advises the cells to do the best they can.
Israeli army, police and security services have raised their level of preparedness to maximum along the West Bank border as Israelis get ready for the Shavuot festival Tuesday night and Wednesday.
<span class="debka">debka</span><span class="file">file</span>: Yet another Fatah-Hamas ceasefire folds although renewed clashes are not reported<br/>
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 23, 2007
Sunday, Day 2 of the truce, Hamas attempted to assassinate the acting chief of General Intelligence in the Gaza Strip, Gen. Muhammad al Masri. Fatah retaliated by knifing to death a leading Hamas preacher, Sheik Namir Hamad.
In the early hours of the ceasefire Saturday, armed men of both factions began leaving their positions in building and streets, hostages were released and road blocks removed
Too Late for Talks with a Hamas Bent on Helping Iran Build Gaza into an Anti-US Anti-Israel Base<br/>
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 21, 2007
As the Hamas-led multiple missile offensive against Israel marked its first week, voices were heard in Israel and overseas, well-meaning or despairing, calling for Israel to start talks with the Palestinian Islamist group's leaders.
Hamas soon knocked that notion on the head. After hurling some 150 missiles against Israel, one of its officials, Nizhar Riyah, issued a clear statement of intent Monday, May 21:
"Hamas is determined to wipe Israel off the map and replace it with the state of Palestine," he said. Hamas will fight "until the last Jew is expelled" - not only from Sderot but also from Ashkelon and "all of Palestine."
Hamas's blitz against Israel is part and parcel of a savage offensive to destroy the Palestinian Authority and oust Mahmoud Abbas, which is aligned with Tehran's overall strategy for anticipating two prospective events in 2007 and 2008:
One is the beginning of the withdrawal of the bulk of the US army from Iraq. The other is the possibility, though not certainty, of an American military strike against Iran's nuclear installations and strategic infrastructure.
To prepare for the two eventualities, Tehran is building a military and logistical base in the Gaza Strip.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 20, 2007
Under the agreement, armed men were to leave their positions in buildings and streets, remove road blocks and release hostages.
Most of the 55 killed in four days of Palestinian factional violence were Fatah adherents or members of Mahmoud Abbas' security services.
debkafile reports long pauses in the factional violence Friday and Saturday when the Israeli Air Force moved in over the northern Gaza Strip to strike Hamas installations and operatives. At least 11 Hamas operatives died in those attacks.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 19, 2007
Masseb Bashir, 25, from Deir el-Balakh admitted charges of intelligence-gathering on security arrangements at the prime minister's residence at the Jerusalem district court Thursday. He informed his controllers that security was too tight to breach. The plot's intended victims also included cabinet members Lieberman and Sneh, Labor MK Ofir Pines and the director of the Antiquities Dept.
Bashir had a valid entry pass to Israel as an associate of the international Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF).
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 18, 2007
On Day 6 of the brutal Palestinian factional war and Day 4 of the Hamas missile offensive against southern Israel, two ruthless figures have emerged as the dominant factors in both conflicts: Ahmad Jabari, commander of Hamas Executive Forces, and Jamal Jarah, better known as Abu Obeida, spokesman of Hamas' military wing.
They are jerking the strings which activate the Palestinian Authority, Israel and Egypt. It is they who have escalating the violence in both sectors to unprecedented levels, to the point of posing the threat of spilling out of the Gaza Strip to Israel's other borders.
A senior Israeli officer commented Thursday: "The fire burning in Sderot and Gaza could spread suddenly to Lebanon or Syria."
If Olmert holds the army back from a direct confrontation with Hamas, the missile offensive will develop into a war of attrition on Israel's southwestern border. Hamas has threatened to expand its offensive to towns which are larger and more distant from Gaza's borders than Sderot. If, on the other hand, Israel goes ahead and clobbers Hamas, it faces the multiple threats of renewed suicidal terror in its main cities and of Hizballah and Syria joining in to support Hamas.
It looks therefore as though the widely predicted Summer 2007War is already upon Israel - and it won't be an easy one.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 15, 2007
Hani al-Kawasmeh quits as Palestinian minister of interior for lack of authority to activate the security services for restoring order in Gaza. Palestinian government spokesman Mohammed Barghouti warns that the Gaza Strip is on the verge of degenerating onto a second Somalia. debkafile's Palestinian sources report that the streets are ruled by warring armed gangs over which the rival factions are losing control, leaving the Saudi-brokered Mecca reconciliation accords in tatters.
Hamas' Abu Obeid threatens: Gilead Shalit will be put to death if Israel carries out military operation in Gaza <br/>
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 10, 2007
The decision, he says, rests with Hamas' military arm, Ezz e-Din al-Qassam.