Jerusalem – On Wednesday, an off duty IDF soldier from the Israeli Givati Infantry Brigade was badly injured and a civilian was lightly injured in a shooting attack on the trans-Samaria road near the entrance to Ariel. Responsibility for the shooting was claimed by the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades, Fatah’s military wing.
The Fatah leadership, including Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and aides to Palestinian Authority Chairman Abu Mazen, clarified: “This is not our official policy.” Fahmi Zaarir, a spokesman for Fatah in the West Bank, however, told the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot that “Fatah’s official position is to maintain an agreed-upon calm on both sides, but Israel’s latest actions throughout the West Bank do not enable the organization to control its men.”
The armed terrorists infiltrated the main road of Judea and Samaria in a small blue GMC van. When they passed a bus stop at the entrance to Ariel, they fired a long volley at the Givati soldier who was waiting at the stop on his way home.
The bullets hit the young soldier in his stomach and legs. In addition, a civilian was lightly injured by this fire. The two casualties were taken to hospital for treatment, where each underwent surgery.
The terrorists’ vehicle continued to move on the trans-Samaria road eastward while firing at passing cars on the road.
The Fatah terrorists continued to drive until they reached the village of Jamain, near Ariel. At the entrance to the village, they abandoned the van, set it on fire and fled, apparently in another vehicle that awaited them. A road out of Jamain reaches close to Nablus.
Immediately after the incident, IDF forces began to comb the area and set up roadblocks on roads in Samaria, in an effort to locate the terrorists. Israeli Security sources said that there had been warnings of intentions to stage shooting attacks on the roads, particularly in Samaria.
Security sources noted that in the past month, there has been an increase in the number of shooting attacks against Israeli vehicles throughout the West Bank.
Israeli Security Official: The Trouble Starts With Fatah
The Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades of Fatah are defined by both the U.S. and Israeli governments as a terrorist organization, yet both governments ignore that operative legal definition and choose to define the Fatah as a moderate peace partner, invited to attend the Middle East Summit in Annapolis on Nov. 26.
However, in a seminal analysis for the Israeli media provided by an Israeli security official who had been the Israeli intelligence chief for Judea and Samaria, the official noted that “The Fatah leadership, headed by Abu Mazen, is careful on every opportunity and before every extended microphone, to condemn terror and call for its cessation. But even while they speak, their soldiers – the members of the El-Aksa Martyrs Brigades – are immersed over their heads in terror. In the past few days, we have received painful terrorist reminders from them: Yesterday, the shooting attack in Ariel, and recent intentions to assassinate Olmert during a visit to Jericho.”
The Israeli security official also noted that “the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades are still linked to Abu Mazen [aka Mahmoud Abbas – D.B.], all of whom receive a monthly salary from the budget of the Palestinian Authority, some of whom even serve in uniform as part of the Palestinian security forces.”
Several hundred wanted Fatah men recently received full amnesty from Israeli pursuit, after many efforts made by Abu Mazen in his talks with Mr. Olmert to achieve the “amnesty for wanted men” agreement.
Yet according to the Israeli security official, “Abu Mazen has not kept his part of the agreement. Most, if not all, of the wanted men did not give up their arms to the Palestinian police as required by the agreement … . Abu Mazen also continues to pay their salaries and to provide them with comfortable living conditions in his camps and headquarters. Fatah operatives in the West Bank enjoy the best of both worlds: They take advantage of Israel’s uncompromising war against Hamas and Islamic Jihad to gain strength, and have become the source of terror in the West Bank. In the past few weeks, there has been an increase in the number of shooting attacks on West Bank roads, fortunately without casualties. Most of the attacks were committed by the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades.”
The security official noted that while Hamas is known to be pressuring its members to carry out a large terror attack in order to derail the conference, “Now it has become apparent that our concerns should be aimed in a different direction – that Abu Mazen’s soldiers will be the ones who will succeed in carrying out a large terror attack that will spoil the conference at Annapolis.”
The Middle East Newsline confirms that Israeli military intelligence has determined that Egypt has intensified its strategic cooperation with the Hamas regime in Gaza.
The Israeli intelligence community has assessed that the regime of President Hosni Mubarak was maintaining a closer relationship with Hamas than with the Palestinian Authority and that Egypt and Hamas have coordinated the flow of weapons, missiles, explosives and insurgents along the border between the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza.
Earlier this month, Egypt enabled nearly 100 Hamas and Islamic Jihad insurgents to move from the Sinai town of El Arish to the Gaza Strip. Many of the insurgents were identified as operatives trained in weapons production in Iran and Lebanon.
For its part, Egypt has provided a number of “photo opportunities” for the media to demonstrate the effort that Cairo has invested in blocking the flow of weapons to Gaza.
On Wednesday, Egypt reported the capture of 500 kilograms of TNT in Rafah near the Sinai-Gaza border.
On Thursday, Israel’s military killed two Hamas operatives near the Egyptian border.
Israel has repeatedly demanded that Egypt sever ties with Hamas and close the Rafah passenger terminal. On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee that Egyptian security arrangements along the Gaza border were unsatisfactory, and said she discussed the issue with Mr. Mubarak last week.
“We have received very disturbing reports in recent weeks that Egypt has not only failed to stop the flow of arms into Gaza, but certain Egyptian authorities are cooperating with the terrorist organization Hamas in smuggling vast amounts of modern weaponry into the Gaza Strip.”
Meanwhile, U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Rep. Tom Lantos said that Egypt has denied cooperation with Hamas and insisted that insurgents were entering the Gaza Strip by breaching the border wall.
On Oct. 21st, Israel Security Agency Director Yuval Diskin said 73 tons of explosives were transported by Egypt to the Gaza Strip since June 2007. In all, Hamas obtained at least 1,650 rocket-propelled grenades and 6,000 bombs in 2007 through the good offices of the Egyptian government. At the same time, Hamas has transferred to Egyptian hospitals more than 100 of its fighters who were wounded in clashes with Israel.
©The Bulletin 2007