Palestinian Groups Line up against Israeli Evacuations

DEBKAfile Special Report

10 April, 2005:

Prime minister Ariel Sharon ordered his defense minister Shaul Mofaz not to allow Israeli troops to fire a single shot in the face of the April 9-10 Palestinian mortar and missile barrage against Gush Katif. This is reported by DEBKAfile’s military and Washington sources. Sharon was intent on showing US President George W. Bush when he met him Monday, April 11, that while Israel was exercising exemplary restraint, the Palestinians were bent on aggression. Picking up fast on their chance to operate with impunity, the Palestinians redoubled their attacks. In broad daylight and heedless of Israeli aerial surveillance, the Qassam missile and mortar crews positioned their launchers and kept on shooting at Israeli civilian and military locations in the southern Gaza Strip.

While the current round caused damage and distress but no injuries, the next round, say Israeli field commanders, will be a lot more ferocious and precise.

According to DEBKAfile’s military sources, all the Palestinian organizations are behind the mortar-missile onslaught together, including Mahmoud Abbas’ own Fatah. For the first time, the Gaza Strip groups are in close sync with fraternal groups on the West Bank. Four Fatah units, for instance, operated in the Gaza Strip front while a fifth went into action in the West Bank town of Bethlehem. Sunday night, as mortar fire resounded in the Gaza Strip, this Fatah unit which is called after Masoud Ayad hurled a pipe bomb at Israeli troops guarding Rachel’s Tomb. No one was hurt. Our intelligence sources identify this unit as linked closely to the Lebanese Hizballah.

That same night, Mofaz conducted a conversation described as tough with Palestinian Authority chairman Abu Mazen demanding that he urgently consign security forces to the Gaza Strip to halt the terror offensive. Mofaz was only going through the motions. He knew that Abbas was quietly encouraging the attackers and in fact had instructed Palestinian television channels to back them up.

This won him no points with any of the Palestinian organizations. They lined up Sunday in a solid front against Sharon’s Gaza evacuation plan which Abbas had endorsed when he shook Sharon’s hand on a truce at Sharm al-Sheikh in February. Calling the pull-out plan a fraudulent ruse to transform the Gaza Strip into a large, isolated prison, they vowed to resist its implementation by every means.

Our sources point out that this is the first time a wall-to-wall Palestinian front has openly avowed its intention of resuming its war of terror against Israel, starting with offensive steps to sabotage the evacuation of Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip.











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