Jerusalem – Brig. Gen.Yossi Baidatz, intelligence research department director for the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), has assessed that “ties between Hamas and Fatah are still severed, despite efforts to resume dialogue. Therefore, there is concern that the next arena for conflict between Fatah and Hamas will be Judea and Samaria.
“A number of violent clashes between Fatah and Hamas have been reported, such as at the Bir Zeit and an-Najah Universities,” Baidatz said. “The Fatah organizations have identified the challenge and are trying to work to reduce Hamas’ power in Judea and Samaria. However, Fatah relies on the presence of the IDF and its operations against terror,” added Baidatz.
According to the senior officer, Hamas continues to consolidate its power in the Gaza Strip. Hamas forces, which are interested in becoming a central police branch, pay salaries to all the activists who do not receive salaries from the Palestinian Authority (PA), led by Fatah. “Our sources think that the crossings agreement emphasizes to Hamas its weakness in this area. It is looking for a permanent arrangement, but at the moment we have not identified humanitarian distress in Gaza.”
Baidatz also informed that the armed Palestinian organizations continue to fire mortar shells and Kassam rockets. “It is certainly possible to identify activity by all those involved in the terror arena. They are preparing for the next stage in the clash, mainly by accumulating advanced weaponry,” he added.
The review by Baidatz dealt also with what is going on in the various sectors in the region. “Syria is still concerned about an attack by Israel. Our officials have noticed that they are monitoring Israeli preparations on all levels. However, statements have been made that testify to a lack of desire for war and readiness to go for peace under certain conditions. The Syrians are concerned about war and are not interested in initiating it. We do not see any change in their deployment, but we do notice high sensitivity on their part to our activity and statements by Israeli figures. Their working assumption is that there is an Israeli plot to attack Syria,” noted the officer.
Baidatz also spoke about the Iranian nuclear issue, saying that the continued international weakness on the subject allows Tehran to ignore the instructions of the atomic energy agency. “The Iranians are sticking to their position not to put off enrichment during the talks,” he said.
House Demands Inquiry Into
Congress wants the Bush administration to brief lawmakers on a proposed U.S. arms package to Saudi Arabia.
U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Rep. Tom Lantos has asked for a briefing on the arms sale package when Congress resumes in September.
So far about 120 House members, including some 20 Republicans, have warned President Bush that they would block the sale to Arab states. In an Aug. 2 letter, 114 House members said they would introduce a joint resolution of disapproval of the sale “the minute Congress is officially notified.”
“People of all political stripes are coming out against this deal,” Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., said. “It’s mind-bogglingly bad policy because the Saudis at every turn have been uncooperative. The idea that we are going to reward the Saudis with precision weaponry is a stunningly bad idea.”
Leading House and Senate members have questioned the U.S. arms package to Saudi Arabia. Some of them have warned that advanced U.S. weaponry to Riyadh could fall into the hands of al-Qaida or its supporters.
Most of the opponents of the administration’s arms package have been Democrats. One exception is Rep. Mike Ferguson, R-N.J., who said he would lobby his colleagues to oppose the deal. “I am deeply disappointed that the Bush administration decided to begin negotiations with Saudi Arabia on a $20 billion arms deal,” Ferguson said.
House members questioned any Saudi pledge not to use the U.S. weapons and platforms against Israel. They said Riyadh has repeatedly violated U.S. conditions on the use and transfer of American weapons.
“The Saudis said before they entered the World Trade Organization they would end the boycott against Israel,” Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla. “They have not done so. There is no reason to believe that the Saudis in this instance will act in any more responsible manner.”
Warning: Hezbollah Threatens To Kidnap Israeli Tourists
The end of the summer vacation is on the horizon, and Israelis are already beginning to prepare for their much-anticipated holiday vacations.
Dozens of travel warnings are published on the Israel Counter-Terrorism Bureau (ICTB) Web site and should be consulted before any trip is planned by Israeli citizens.
Indeed, the ICTB reminds Israelis that they cannot safely relax during their dream vacations abroad. The Sinai peninsula, the most popular holiday destination, is again at the top of the blacklist.
Heading the list of destinations that are not safe to visit and not recommended for Israelis is Sinai, together with countries where the level of threat is described as “a very high tangible danger.” Also on the list are Iran, Afghanistan, the Kashmir region in northern India, the Chechnya region in Russia, the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines, Iraq and Egypt. Sudan, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Somalia and Yemen are also on the list.
Second on the list are areas with “very tangible danger,” which include Algeria, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Djibouti and Saudi Arabia. The countries with a “basic tangible danger” are Kenya, Kuwait, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Morocco, Chad and Bahrain. The lowest threat level is of countries with a “continuing potential for danger,” which include Oman, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Tajikistan and Libya.
Israelis are prohibited by law from traveling to Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
Alongside these recommendations, the ICTB warns about kidnappings of Israelis in every country in the world as a result of the conflict with Hezbollah and in light of the existing inclination by terror organizations to kidnap Israelis abroad. However, the bureau stresses that the threat of kidnapping is relevant mainly in Muslim and Arab countries.
In addition, the ICTB details the prohibition regarding the transport of illegal aliens in Israel. According to the bureau’s announcement, “citizens and residents of Israel who transport Palestinians who are staying illegally in Israeli territory seriously disrupt the efforts to combat terror, and directly, even if unintentionally, help augment the threats of terror. Recently there has been an increase in this serious phenomenon, to the point that those transporting the illegals have themselves become a real security risk.”
David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2007