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.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 3, 2002
For the first time, prime minister Ariel Sharon sets off for Washington Saturday night, May 4, completely in the dark about what awaits him in the Oval Office. In all his previous five visits since taking office, the agenda was clearly laid out. This trip, according to debkafile's political sources say, his close advisers have no notion of what he will hear from President George W. Bush.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 1, 2002
The package incorporating Yasser Arafat's freedom from a month under siege in Ramallah, the transfer of six Palestinian assassins and terror chiefs to jail in Anglo-American custody and the lifting of the Israeli blockade of Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, has been teetering on the brink of consummation since early Tuesday, April 30. The parties involved in the three-way negotiations, the Vatican, the United States, the UK, Israel and the Palestinians, all explain that loose ends remain to be tied up.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 30, 2002
The UK did not need a second invitation from George W. Bush to come roaring back to the Middle East to Yasser Arafat's rescue - with Javier Solana's European Union outfit riding in on its back.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 28, 2002
Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon needed a second vote at the Sunday, 28 April, cabinet meeting to swing a majority of 17 ministers against 8 in favor of President George W. Bush's proposal for lifting the month-long siege of Yasser Arafat in his shell-pocked HQ in Ramallah. The Bush proposal drove through Israel's pre-condition for setting Arafat free - the extradition to Israel of the four assassins who murdered the Israeli minister Rehavam Zeevi last year, as well as Fouad Shoubaki, the financial director behind the Karine-A arms smuggling project - and Arafat's senior go-between with Tehran and Baghdad. The sixth man on Israel's list is the PFLP Secretary General Ahmad Sada'at. Arafat has been harboring all six in his besieged headquarters in Ramallah.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 27, 2002
Saturday morning, April 27, two terrorists burst into the Jewish settlement of Adora, west of Hebron on the West Bank, shooting their way into one home after another. They killed four Israeli civilians, two of them young children, and wounded 13, 7 seriously.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 22, 2002
Israel's month-long offensive to smash Palestinian terrorists strongholds in the West Bank has had a side effect worth noting: some ordinary Palestinians are no longer afraid to speak out and admit their distress - in front of television cameras.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 20, 2002
According to debkafile's Washington sources, the Bush team is drafting new plans for Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority. Its basic assumption is that, as long as Arafat remains acknowledged leader of the Palestinian people, President Bush's oft-repeated vision of a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel is impracticable.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 20, 2002
By any military standards, the large-scale offensiveIsrael launched on March 29 against seven Palestinian cities and their satellite villages and camps, is a victory and a resounding Palestinian defeat.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 15, 2002
Israel's triumphant capture of Marwan Barghouti, 41, the Secretary General of the West Bank's Fatah-Tanzim and the most vocal Palestinian leader, gave a strong impetus to the Sharon government's campaign to delegitimize and replace Yasser Arafat.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 12, 2002
Israeli security foiled a Palestinian terrorist attempt to hit the motorcade driving US secretary of state Colin Powellfrom BenGurionAirport to Jerusalem Thursday night, April 12, shortly after he landed. The Secretary was accompanied by Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres and heads of the US embassy.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 7, 2002
In the coming week, the protagonists in the current Middle East crisis will race against time to bring matters to a head before US secretary of state Colin Powell arrives on his new mission on behalf of President George W. Bush. The Israelis, the Palestinians, Syria, Iraq, Iran and the Hizballah, will all try to establish their mastery of the situation.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 4, 2002
Four men are now in Israel's sights. Two - Yasser Arafat and Palestinian intelligence chief Tawfik Tirawi - are under siege in Ramallah.
The other two - Fatah-Tanzim militia chief Marwan Barghouti and Rashid Abu Shbak, deputy to Gaza preventative security chief Mohammed Dahlan - are running for their lives with Israeli intelligence services on their heels.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 2, 2002
This piece of correspondence was discovered by Israeli troops who went through the files in Yasser Arafat's personal accounting department in Ramallah. It is an itemized bill signed by the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades - Palestine, and dated September 16, 2001, exactly five days after the September 11 suicide attacks in the United States.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 2, 2002
The following is an exclusive interview held by debkafile's special correspondent Monday morning, April 2, with Wail Hammoudeh, director of the Ramallah hospital, Mustashfa al Ri'aya al Arabiyya, in person. The interview is presented here verbatim.