DEBKAfile, 2 December 2001
"DEBKAfile’s Miilitary Sources report: Heightened Israeli Military Activity in Last 48 Hours -- Israeli defense minister Binyamin bin Eliezer, accompanied by his deputy, Dalia Pelosof-Rabin, called on US envoy Anthony Zinni Friday night for what was described as an urgent meeting. A call of this nature on a Friday night is most unusual in Israel. That - and the fact that the minister took with him his deputy and “senior security officials” - lent the event exceptional gravity, although the week’s toll from terrorist attacks was grave enough – 7 Israelis killed and more than 50 injured, with scores still in hospital.
The official explanation for the unusual meeting is the current red terrorist alert, more extensive than any declared in all the fifteen months of the Palestinian uprising.
Israeli Defense Forces were instructed to tighten the closures around Palestinian towns rated “focal terrorist sites” including Jenin and Nablus, with tanks taking up new positions there. [Emphasis added]
However, our sources link the unscheduled Bin Eliezer-Zinni briefing with the heavy Israeli military traffic heading north in the last 48 hours, including Friday night. Witnesses reported convoys of tanks, APC and other heavy equipment moved through the drenching rain from southern and central Israel up north. Thursday and Friday, numbers of reservists were ordered to report to their units without delay.
The theme of Ben Eliezer’s conversation with the US envoy almost led Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon to call off his once-postponed visit to the United States. At the last moment, he took off, arriving in New York Friday, where he visited the site of the destroyed World Trade Center and called on Mayor Rudolph Guiliano, who assured him that both the United States and Israel would defeat terror.
Monday, he goes to the White House to meet President George W. Bush, who condemned the Palestinian suicide bombing of an Israeli intercity bus near Pardess Hana, in which three passengers died and the shooting of an Israeli soldier – both on Thursday.
DEBKAfile , though not specifying the cause of all this activity, report the convictionof informed Middle East military circles that the current massive Palestinian terror campaign may be but a prelude. They predict it will be ratcheted up to strategic proportions to signal the onset of broad military strikes, involving the Lebanese extremist Shiite Hizballa, Syria or even Iraq.
The briefing given to General Zinni also went to President Bush.
If the guesstimates are correct, the Middle East is no longer waiting for
his decision as to when and against whom to open the next phase of the
American war on terror. The second front after Afghanistan may open of
itself. In that case, Israel’s military moves would appear at this point
to be preventive, deterrent or precautionary.