Jerusalem – The Middle East Newsline has confirmed that the Bush administration, driven by a 2009 deadline for an independent and sovereign Palestinian state, has been transferring millions of dollars in cash to Palestinian Authority (PA) military commanders
“Every major operation is preceded and concluded by cash transfers to Palestinian commanders at a variety of levels,” a PA security source said. “Some of these commanders have already become rich just over the last six months alone.”
PA commanders have quietly acknowledged that their forces were unprepared to battle dissidents of the Fatah movement as well as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
But they said that U.S. security coordinator Lt. Gen Keith Dayton has been pressuring the PA to demonstrate its ability to take over security responsibility from Israel throughout Judea and Samaria.
The result, the sources said, have been several well-publicized PA troop deployments in Jenin and Nablus over the last six months. In each case, the PA undertook one or two operations, attended by the Israeli and foreign media, to tout Palestinian security capabilities.
“When the cameras left, the security situation returned to what it had been before,” another security source said. “But the PA commanders received envelopes full of U.S. dollars.”
In Nablus, the sources said, discipline has declined as officers outnumber soldiers. They said 300 officers and 200 soldiers have been deployed in Nablus since late 2007.
In Jenin, the PA deployed 600 National Security Force and Presidential Guard troops under the command of Maj. Gen. Suleiman Umran. The troops, the sources said, were rushed from a training program in Jordan to battle suspected Palestinian insurgents, and in their first operations, began shooting civilians.
“It was chaos,” a PA security officer recalled. “At one point, field officers called the commander and said one of the civilians was dying. The commander said ‘Let him die. I don’t care.’ Another officer with the commander learned that this man was his cousin and began shouting at the commander to take the injured man to the hospital.”
The PA has replaced most of its command structure with those loyal to Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. They said this has alienated many veteran commanders who have resisted Mr. Fayyad’s authority.
“Dayton has helped install a whole new set of commanders who are loyal to the United States and by extension Fayyad,” a PA security source said.
“The old guys are gone and the new commanders get paid for each operation that satisfies Dayton.”
British and French intelligence agencies have also been helping in the effort to enhance PA security forces.
What this means is that there are entrenched, Western-trained Palestinian troops in the hills overlooking Israel’s population centers, from Netanya to Tel Aviv on the coastal plain to Jerusalem itself. The latent and unexpressed fear in Israel is that Netanya, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem will soon feel the brunt of light artillery attacks from Judea and Samaria, much the way that Sderot and Ashkelon have suffered from Gaza-based artillery attacks.
Fatah officials fear truce could bolster Hamas
A leading figure in Israeli intelligence has noted that the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has repeatedly spoken about the need for a cease-fire, yet behind closed doors, his advisers hope that Israel will launch a large-scale operation in Gaza with the purpose of ousting Hamas.
Senior officials in Fatah, Mr. Abbas’ movement, fear that a cease-fire will bolster Hamas’ strength in Gaza, weaken the Palestinian Authority chairman even further and deepen the separation between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Because of its fear of such an agreement, Fatah has demanded that international troops be stationed in the Gaza Strip and at the border crossings. Fatah has also been working to renew negotiations among the Palestinian factions.
Today, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is to meet with Mr. Abbas at the Prime Minister’s residence in Jerusalem.
Turkish officials: Israeli, Syrian foreign ministers will meet iAugust
According to the Turkish embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel and Syria are due to meet for the first time at the end of August for a summit meeting that will give the signal for the start of direct negotiations in the peace process between the sides.
Turkish officials connected with the talks said that the second round of indirect talks, which is being mediated by Turkey, will take place Thursday, June 5, the anniversary of the beginning of the Six-Day War, at the end of which the Golan Heights were taken by Israel at the demand of Israel’s northern Galilee residents who were being pummeled by Syrian mortars from the Golan Heights.
The first round of the talks, which took place in Istanbul approximately two weeks ago, was indirect and held on two parallel channels, without an Israeli-Syrian meeting. The talks are being coordinated by Ahmet Davutoglu, a special adviser to the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is supervising them closely.
Turkish officials said that the sides have not yet discussed the burning issues, first among them, the precise border and the future of relations between Damascus and Tehran. This information was confirmed by a high-ranking Syrian official, who was quoted recently in the newspaper Asharq al-Awsat as saying, “First, matters of procedure were discussed, and afterwards the general principles were presented.” He added, “The next stage is going into detail. There has been serious progress, and it looks like the transition to the second stage of the talks is already close.”
Syrian officials do not intend to settle for Turkish mediation, but mean to recruit Washington for the process as well. “The U.S. is the only country that can advance a peace treaty in a realistic way,” said Imad Mustafa, Syria’s ambassador to Washington. “Peace can be achieved between Syria and Israel, but it requires the full commitment of the United States. Syria is honest in its desire to reach the best possible relations with Washington.”
Thai worker wounded by rocket during poultry run in Negev
Gaza missiles and mortar shells fired at the Jewish collective farms known as Kibbutzim and Moshavim continued over the weekend. A man in his 20’s was moderately wounded at noon on Saturday when a Qassam rocket fell in the poultry run on Moshav Amioz in the Eshkol regional council.
The rocket also caused property damage. The young man, a Thai worker, was wounded by shrapnel from the Qassam rocket, which exploded in the moshav’s poultry coop. The man’s employer took him to the Magen David Adom station (Magen David Adom is similar to the Red Cross), from which he was taken for medical treatment to Soroka Hospital in Beer Sheva, where he underwent surgery. Hospital officials said that the man was moderately wounded by shrapnel in the elbow.
Over the weekend, approximately 10 missiles and mortar shells were fired at Israeli territory. Last Friday, a rocket fell at the Gevim junction. On Saturday, rockets also fell in Givat Nizmit near the security fence, and south of Kibbutz Ivim.
On Friday night, the IDF attacked a building that served as a terrorist base in the central Gaza Strip, north of Khan Yunis.
Two Hamas terrorists were wounded the day after they participated in a demonstration in the area of the Sufa crossing point. The Palestinians demonstrated in protest against Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.
According to the report, thousands of Palestinians approached the crossing point and, they said, at least six of them were wounded by IDF gunfire. IDF officials said that the soldiers used tear gas and deterrent fire in order to prevent them from crossing into Israel and that the troops spotted at least one armed man among the demonstrators.
IDF troops seized two rocket launchers on Tuesday evening during an activity of IDF troops inside Palestinian territory, between the Sufa crossing point and Kerem Shalom, southeast of Rafah. During that activity, 13 wanted terrorists were arrested and brought to Israel for questioning.
In other activity on Wednesday evening, southeast of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, 60 Palestinians were arrested on suspicion of terrorist activity against Israel, mainly rocket fire at the Negev.
Troops from the Givati Brigade, the 188th Brigade of the Armored Corps and the Engineering Corps participated. When the operation ended, the troops left.
Hamas intensifies SAM procurement
The Hamas regime in Gaza, expecting an imminent invasion by Israel, has increased procurement of anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles.
Hamas and the Iranian-sponsored Islamic Jihad have received new shipments of missiles from Iran. The missiles arrived via Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula or directly from merchant ships in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
“These missiles are regarded as the highest priority as Hamas believes Israel will launch an invasion sometime in June,” a Palestinian source told the Middle East Newsline, which also confirmed that the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups have received shipments of the AT-14 Kornet anti-tank guided missile as well as the SA-7 surface-to-air missile (SAM). The Russian-origin Kornet was used by Hezbollah in the 2006 war against Israel.
David Bedein can be reached at [email protected] His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com