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NEW PALESTINIAN & JEWISH TERROR

Shabak Chief Dichter: 'Jewish Extremists Plotting To Initiate Exchanges Of Fire Between IDF Soldiers And Settlers During Withdrawal'

'Palestinian Terrorists In Gaza Now Have Five Shoulder-Fired Ground to Air Missiles And Plan To Launch Them'

'Palestinian Leader Abbas Will Seek Terrorists' Agreement For Cease Fire And Then Build Up Military Strength For Future Use'

Shabak Chief Dichter

Shabak Security Chief Avi Dichter presented a grave picture in his semi-annual report to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Dichter analyzed the current Palestinian escalation in Gaza, new Palestinian terror threats and the threat from Jewish extremists during the upcoming withdrawal from Gaza and four West Bank settlements.

In a wide-ranging review, Shabak security Chief Avi Dichter analyzed the various threats facing the country against the backdrop of the Palestinian confrontation and Israel's upcoming disengagement.

Current Palestinian Escalation - The terrorists in Gaza are launching Qassam rockets from roofs of Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip. It's a real 'happening' for Palestinian kids and civilians who flock around to watch the launchings; most are by timing devices which enables the terrorists to get away. There is a complete infrastructure in place including a command structure. In the past six months, the terrorists have launched 199 home-made Qassam rockets at Israeli targets, many at the Israeli town of Sderot. At present, there are forty to fifty terror alerts daily and the terrorists' motivation to carry out attacks, inside Israel and the territories, was running high. From the Palestinians' viewpoint, Hizballah terrorism drove the IDF out of South Lebanon and they are now trying to follow suit in Gaza. But Dichter said Gaza today is not South Lebanon and Qassam rockets were not the same as Katyushas.

Mahmoud Abbas & Palestinian Election - The Shabak intelligence assessment does not foresee any 'dramatic developments' after the expected election of Mahmoud Abbas as President on January 9th. Despite the recent Abbas condemnation of the Qassam rocketings and terrorism, the Palestinians are expected to remain a 'safe haven' for the terrorists. Dichter does not expect 'President' Abbas will launch any counter-terror operations. On the contrary, Abbas will probably seek the terrorists' agreement for a 'Hudna' cease-fire with Israel. However, the new Palestinian leadership would then exploit the quiet to build up its military strength for future use against Israel. On this point, Dichter was adamant: 'Israel must not allow the Palestinian Authority to build a military capability which would create a new reality. The Shabak chief said Israel must declare that a cease-fire must mean not only halt attacks but also put a stop to arms smuggling, arms the production and the acquisition of weapons and explosives.

Strela

Palestinian Arms Buildup - There has been an increase in the flow of smuggled explosives and weapons from Egyptian control Sinai into the Gaza Strip over the past six months. But not only large quantities of explosives, anti-tank missiles, automatic rifles, handguns, ammunition, and grenades; there was now an even more menacing threat, shoulder-launched anti aircraft missile launchers. Dichter disclosed the TERRORISTS NOW HAVE FIVE SUCH STRELLA LAUNCHERS IN GAZA AND PLAN TO USE THEM! It will be recalled that terrorists in Kenya launched a Strella missile at an Israeli airliner in ther past, but fortunately missed. Committee Chairman Yuval Steinitz of the Likud later charged that Egypt was not doing nearly enough to stem the arms smuggling from its territory. Dichter also disclosed that the Shabak is aware that more weapons are stored in the terrorist pipeline in Sinai. This raises the question, if the Shabak knows it, how come the Egyptians are doing nothing about it?

Philadelfee Corridor - Israel controls this narrow strip of some 75 yards in depth separating Sinai from the Gaza Strip. It is here the terrorists dig their underground tunnels for smuggling. Dichter declared it would be ' unreasonable' for Israel to withdraw from this security buffer at this time. There is no Palestinian force that would act to block the arms smuggling and the 'current supply through the underground tunnels would develop into a major flow'. The result would be an additional significant security dimension which would swiftly TURN GAZA INTO ANOTHER SOUTH LEBANON! Dichter was also convinced that the Egyptians would not halt the flow; in Dichter's words: 'The Philadelfee Corridor is a security issue of the first order for Israel'

Northern Samaria - The upcoming IDF withdrawal also includes 4 settlements in northern Samaria. In answer to a question by Likud MK Ehud Yatom, Dichter said this area has the potential for terrorism. It was from northern Samaria, that terrorists launched many of their attacks before the security fence made it much harder. However, he warned no one should be surprised if it again turns into a terrorist hotbed if the IDF is pulled out of northern Samaria; the way the military will be evacuated from its permanent bases in the Gaza Strip after the settlements are dismantled. He argued against applying the Gaza model of Palestinian controlled area A to northern Samaria; THERE MUST BE NO LINK BETWEEN EVACUATING 4 SETTLEMENTS IN SAMARIA WITH AN IDF PULLOUT IN THAT AREA.

But it was no all doom and gloom, Dichter said the evacuation of the Gaza settlements would present the terrorists with fewer 'attractive targets' from their point of view.' Israel will end up with a 'dividend by pulling the carpet of targets from out under the terrorists'. Israel's intelligence capability would not be diminished and the Shabak foresees an eventual drop in terrorist attacks.

Security Fence - Not one Palestinian terrorist has succeeded in penetrating the security fence being built in the West Bank and which is already in place along the Gaza Strip. Dichter said there could be no question that the fence was highly effective in preventing the suicide bombers from getting through.

Syria & Iran - Both countries are continuing their support of the Palestinian terrorists without let-up. Despite President Bashar Assad's denials, Damascus is still hosting the terrorist headquarters. He cited Hamas and Islamic Jihad as both being backed by Syria. Iran's official agencies and intelligence service were helping to organize attacks from the Palestinian areas. Hizballah, Iran's proxy in Lebanon was also in the act. Dichter disclosed that HIZBALLAH AND IRAN WERE BEHIND THE PALESTINIAN ATTACKS THAT MURDERED 24 ISRAELIS IN 2004.Israeli And East Jerusalem Arabs - Last year, the Israeli security forces arrested 52 East Jerusalem terror suspects. Twenty percent of all Israeli casualties were as a result of terrorism by East Jerusalem Palestinians. As for Israeli Arabs 27 were arrested in the first half of 2004 and 24 in the second half of the year. Six Palestinians who moved inside Israel after marrying Israeli Arab citizens were later arrested for terrorist activity. By the way, over the past ten years, 100,000 Palestinians from the territories have moved into Israel after marrying their Israeli Arab wives. As for the terrorists, they continue to recruit Palestinian women and children for suicide bombings. In 2004, 61 Palestinian women and 168 juveniles were arrested in connection with terrorism. Although, the Shabak has been taking the war to the terrorists, Dichter said that the goal is to capture terrorists rather than kill them; the intelligence information they may have can serve to save Israeli lives.

Disengagement Tension (Photo: Amit Shabi)

Jewish Extremists - The Shabak Chief said there are now several dozen extremists supported by an envelope of several hundred supporters, who favor the use of force to achieve their political goals. They were 'problematic and of concern' to the Shabak. These extremists might turn to several tactics in trying to halt the withdrawal. Dichter said this included an attack on the Muslim sites on Jerusalem's Temple Mount. They had no problem stealing weapons from the IDF and also had a military capability. The fact they were working in a secret underground was no less a worry. Their policy was to deligitimize Israel's security forces as well as threatening Israeli officials involved in the disengagement. Their modus operandi, during the withdrawal, might be to spread rumors the IDF had opened fire on demonstrators with the goal of spurring settlers to shoot at the troops. Another tactic might be to use red paint guns on demonstrators to create the impression that soldiers or policemen had deliberately shot and wounded demonstrators. Again, Dichter said the goal would be to provoke demonstrators into firing at the security forces. He added that not only was the Shabak worried, so were settler leaders who did not want exchanges of gunfire between demonstrators and soldiers.Labor MK Haim Ramon asked why the Jewish suspects were not placed under house arrest. Otherwise he warned of a 'colossal disaster' such as the assassination of a leader, an attack on the Temple Mount or another 'Goldstein attack'. Dichter replied the evidence against the suspects was not sufficient to stand up in court.

Finally, Avi Dichter is given credit for doing a superb job in leading the campaign to contain the terrorism over the past year. So much so, there is a move by some committee members to call on Prime Minister Sharon to extend Dichter's five year term which soon expires.

David Essing

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