DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 18, 2002
Less than 24 hours after Tawfiq Fukra attempted to hijack El Al Tel Aviv-Istanbul Flight 581 in midair with the help of a penknife, Israel's airport authority gave itself a clean bill of health. The initial probe had established, said the authority's spokesman, that the 23-year old Israeli Arab from the Galilee village of Baina Najidat, west of Tiberias, had been screened by security officers according to the strictest criteria. Therefore, no faults could be attributed to pre-flight security procedures. The Authority's CEO, Pinni Schiff, admitted he could not say how the would-be hijacker had spirited a penknife aboard the flight. He said an answer was to be expected from the Turkish security interrogation of Fukra, who was taken into custody at Ataturk international airport when the threatened El Al flight landed Sunday night, with 170 safe but very frightened passengers and crew.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 16, 2002
Seventeen Israelis have died in two major Palestinian acts of terror in the last six days, confronting Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon's fresh top team with their first stiff challenge. The men who will have to come up with answers are defense minister Shaul Mofaz, foreign minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Mofaz's successor as chief of staff, Lt. General Moshe Yaalon. Sunday, November 10, Palestinian gunmen shot five Israelis in cold blood, including a mother and two small sons, at Kibbutz Metzer inside Israel. In response, Israeli forces stormed into two northern West Bank Palestinian cities, Tulkarm and Nablus, for what were described officially as "toothcomb" operations to uproot terrorists in their lairs. This momentum was brutally interrupted on Friday night, November 15, by a meticulously planned, surprise Palestinian assault on Jewish worshippers making their way home to the Hebron suburb of Kiryat Arba from prayers at the Cave of the Patriarchs.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 11, 2002
The terrorists Yasser Arafat's Fatah admitted sending to Kibbutz Metzer on the Israel-West Bank border carried out their killing rampage on Sunday, November 10, concurrently with the Fatah-Hamas conference taking place in Cairo under the European Union's aegis.
Far from being mutually contradictory, the two events fit neatly together.
Sunday night, two or more Palestinians burst into an avowedly pacifist rural kibbutz, shot dead its secretary Yitzhak Dori, 44, and a visitor from Moshav Eliachin, Tirza Damari, 42. They then burst into a home and murdered Revital Ochayon and the two small sons, Matan 5 and Noam, 4, she sheltered with her body, before disappearing into the night. They struck hours after the Israeli military pullback from the Palestinian city of Jenin.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 6, 2002
Egypt, with quiet American encouragement, is engaged in a complicated diplomatic maneuver to persuade the Hamas to halt its suicide-murder attacks on Israelis by setting up meetings in Cairo between PLO representatives and the Damascus-based leaders of the Hamas: Khaled Mash'al and Abu Marzuk. This initiative comes from officials in the US State Department and European Union, led by Colin Powell and Javier Solana.
debkafile's political analysts note that both these officials cling against all odds to their dream of persuading Yasser Arafat to one day give up terror. Their latest ploy addresses the Islamic extremes of the Palestinian movement, the Hamas and the Jihad Islami, the idea being that if they are induced to stop their suicidal terror practices, the Tanzim and al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades run by Arafat's Fatah will follow suit.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 24, 2002
debkafile's readers were not taken aback by the Israeli Shin Beit's (Security Service) disclosure on September 23 that it had custody of a three-man Palestinian cell from Ramallah who trained in Iraq with Iraqi instructors in the execution of strikes against Israeli targets - in the company of al Qaeda terrorists.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 11, 2002
The members of the Palestinian Legislative Assembly ought to have remembered when they set about forcing a showdown with Yasser Arafat that he relishes the challenge of turning setbacks into victories. Just before the hitherto tame lawmakers forced a vote of no confidence in his 21-man cabinet Wednesday, September 11, he instructed the ministers to resign, thereby sidestepping the vote and defeating its purpose. The largely corrupt and inefficient cabinet stays on as a caretaker until a general election, exactly as he wanted. In another maneuver to blunt the opposition, Arafat fixed January 20 as election day. He has no more intention of letting a free election go forward than he has of appointing a new government in two weeks, which he also pledged.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 2, 2002
In a pivotal through unannounced development last week, 300 troops of the Jordanian Army's Palestinian Al Bader Brigade crossed the Allenby Bridge into the West Bank as the harbingers of the US program for displacing the Palestinian Authority's terror-tainted security force operated by Yasser Arafat. According to debkafile's military and Palestinian sources, within 24 hours of its arrival, the vanguard Jordanian force took charge of security in the Bethlehem-Beit Jala-Beit Sahur area abutting south Jerusalem, deferring directly to the new Palestinian interior minister Gen. Abdel Razzek Yahya and collaborating with US CIA and Israeli liaison officers.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report July 31, 2002
The difficulty of identifying the seven victims killed and more than 76 injured was complicated by the severe nature of their wounds and the fact that many were foreign nationals who were rushed to hospital unconscious. Some of the critically wounded underwent emergency surgery before regaining consciousness.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report July 24, 2002
Various politicians lost no time in capitalizing on the genuine shock, condemnation and remorse in Israel and overseas over the death of children and civilians in Monday's Israeli F16 warplane bombing of a residential district of Gaza City. More than one previous attempt to hit the Hamas's top gun, Salah Shehada, was put off when he was found to be in civilian company.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 25, 2002
Ten days before President George W. Bush told the Palestinians to remove their leaders if they wanted a state (on June 24), an intelligence report landing on his desk informed him that Arafat had jumped the gun on the presidential statement. Instead of instituting democratic reforms, the Palestinian leader had overhauled and recharged his terror command structure in readiness for a savage terrorist offensive intended to reach also US targets in Israel and the Middle East.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 22, 2002
The slaughter of innocents inflicted on Israel this week by Palestinian murderers is unparalleled since the days of Nazi Germany. No longer are Israelis murdered singly; whole families are being wiped out while asleep, riding buses, celebrating.
The terror stalking every corner of the country lends the term holocaust a fearful, intimate meaning for the offspring of those who survived the Nazis and in 1949 founded a Jewish state and a national defense force, vowing that never again would Jewish children die defenseless.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 9, 2002
Yasser Arafat unveiled his new government with loud fanfare Sunday, June 9, in advance of Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon's talks with US president George W. Bush in the White House Monday. No one expected much more than cosmetic reforms as a sop to international pressure.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 4, 2002
CIA director George Tenet knew - even before he talked to Yasser Arafat Tuesday, June 4, on ways of de-terrorizing and reforming the Palestinian tangled security apparatus - that he would be going back to Washington empty-handed.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 27, 2002
An impressive array of diplomats has taken over the overhaul of the Palestinian Authority under Yasser Arafat's baton, claiming structural reforms are a cure-all for Palestinian terror. The most ardent advocates of this panacea are US secretary of state Colin Powell, European Union foreign affairs executive Javier Solana, Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres, Arafat's close financial adviser Muhammed Rashid and Ariel Sharon's new chef de bureau Dov Weisglass.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 23, 2002
Wednesday night, May 22, Rishon Lezion, a small town south of TeI Aviv was struck by a Palestinian suicide bomber for the second time in ten days. The killer targeted strollers taking the air in the town's high street mall and knots of chess-players sitting quietly in a corner opposite a park. Two died and more than 30 hospitalized.
Less than 12 hours later, a catastrophe of disastrous proportions was narrowly prevented. Thursday morning, May 23, a tanker-truck drove into Israel's central fuel depot at Pi Glilot in north Tel Aviv and caught fire while loading. An explosive device attached to the truck's underside was detonated by a cell-phone. Fortunately the fuel was slow to ignite and automatic extinguishers quickly put out the flames. The fire did not spread to the fuel drums and no one was hurt.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 16, 2002
However insistent Palestinian calls on their leaders to overhaul their ruling system may be, no single group dares suggest that Yasser Arafat be "reformed" out of his job as Palestinian Number One. He is therefore secure in the knowledge that the only reforms in his governing regime will be orchestrated by himself - or not at all.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 10, 2002
Friday, May 10, was a dark day for the thousands of Israeli bereaved by Palestinian terror. The details of the deal to release 123 Palestinians granted sanctuary for 38 days in one of the holiest shrines of Christendom, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, slipped out when it was too late.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 6, 2002
A large number of badly wanted Palestinian gunmen were among the 200 people who dived into the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem 35 days ago, just ahead of the incursion of Israeli troops and tanks, in the early days of Israel's largest anti-terror operation against Palestinian West Bank towns. They claimed and received sanctuary in the Christian shrine.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 5, 2002
Now that Israel has released Yasser Arafat from confinement, American, European and Saudi sources are all talking fast in the hope of moving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict onto the diplomatic track. All that remains, they imply, is for Arafat to democratize his regime and transfer authority to non-violent hands - names of candidates for the succession are freely bruited about.