Jerusalem – A short time before the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, her husband telephoned an Israeli diplomatic figure. “All our efforts to get assistance with security have failed,” her husband said. “The Pakistani administration is making it difficult for us, and all the officials whom we contacted abroad, including the Americans and the British, are not helping. We make an unusual request of you: to help us get professional Israeli security guards who will be able to protect my wife’s life.”
Bhutto had sent a personal e-mail to one of her friends in the United States saying that if she were to be assassinated in Pakistan, President Musharraf would be responsible.
For that reason, she tried upgrade the level of security and even attempted to get Israeli help.
Israeli officials held many discussions about Bhutto’s request. The subject came up at the Foreign Ministry, the Defense Ministry, the Mossad and the General Security Service (GSS). The idea of sending professional bodyguards from Options were examined, such as connecting Bhutto’s people with private Israeli security companies, including those who had served the security establishment, the GSS and the Mossad in the past.
A meeting that was supposed to take place in New York between Bhutto and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was postponed at the last moment because of pressures in Bhutto’s schedule. Additional meetings were being planned. Among other things, a meeting was spoken of between Bhutto and high-ranking Israelis in Europe, including directors-general of government ministries, at which Bhutto’s people planned to reiterate their requests and pleas for security assistance.
In the end, the meetings never took place. Bhutto returned to Pakistan and was assassinated.
On Saturday night, Cpl. Ahikam Amihai, 20, and Staff Sgt. David Rubin, 21, both of Kiryat Arba, south of Jerusalem, were killed on Friday ago in a shooting attack near Hebron.
At about 11 a.m. on Friday, the Kiryat Arba hotline rang. On the line was Naama Ohayon, 21, who reported: “We are on a hiking trip in the Gesher Halhul region. We’ve been shot at. My two friends are very seriously wounded. I managed to run away, and I am now hiding in the bushes. Come quickly to save us.”
This incident began when Ms. Ohayon and two soldier friends went hiking along the Telem nature reserve, not far from Hebron.
They encountered several Palestinians at some point, who asked them for water. Evidently, the Palestinians subsequently called for some terrorist friends, who then arrived in a silver Toyota jeep.
The terrorists approached the three Israelis and suddenly opened fire at them. Staff Sgt. Rubin and Cpl. Amihai were hit but managed to return fire with their personal weapons. The two soldiers were killed. One of the terrorists was also killed. The three other terrorists were wounded and fled from the site; all the while Naama was hiding among the trees.
“We were walking along and saw a jeep driving in our direction,” Naama told the paramedic, Zahi Yahav, who was one of the first to arrive.
“They said hello to us and continued on, but suddenly the guy that sitting in back pulled out a rifle and fired three shots. One of my friends fell and I hid behind one of the bushes. There was a gun battle that lasted about a minute, after which there was quiet and then I heard a conversation between the two people in Arabic, then they went back into the jeep and drove away.”
The terrorists themselves seem to have fled to the nearby Palestinian town of Halhul; when they stopped at an IDF roadblock along the way, they told the soldiers that the wounds were the result of exchanges of fire in a dispute between clans. The soldiers checked out the Palestinians’ claim and, according to the debriefing, received permission to allow them to go to Hebron. IDF officials subsequently explained that a report about a clan dispute had indeed been received, and since they did not know that a terror attack had taken place, they let the terrorists through.
The Israeli army began to hunt for the terrorist cell, and, on Friday night soldiers from the elite Duvdevan unit raided a hospital in Hebron, and arrested the three wounded terrorists from the terror attack. Several more Palestinians were arrested together with them in Hebron.
It has been confirmed that the jeep that arrived at the scene with armed terrorists belonged to the Palestinian Authority police force, recently armed by the American government.
IDF Kills Abu
Early last week, Muassem Rafik Salah Sharif was present in the highest offices of the Israeli government, guarding Abu Ala, one of the senior officials of the Palestinian Authority who is involved in direct negotiations with Israel.
On Friday, IDF troops killed the same Muassem Rafik Salah Sharif in a gun battle in Bituniya, to the west of Ramallah.
IDF officials said that the troops had had not intended to kill him. They came with an arrest warrant because of his alleged involvement in shooting attacks and roadside bombing attacks on behalf of the Fatah Tanzim.
Mr. Sharif, who identified the Israeli forces, was the first to open fire. The IDF shared evidence with the Israeli media that he was a wanted terrorist, notwithstanding his membership in the Palestinian security forces, and had even been appointed to serve as Abu Ala’s bodyguard. He was also responsible for running guns to terror organizations in the Ramallah district.
Israel Trade and Industry Minister Eli Yishai called for cessation of negotiations with the Palestinians in the wake of the terror attack in the Telem nature reserve.
Eliyahu Liebman, security officer of the Jewish community in Hebron, said that there was no need to warn hikers about hiking in the area, remarking that “in Sderot, it is much more dangerous than in this wadi, with soldiers who are prepared, as it is a fact that they fought against the terrorists. … We must not let the enemy prevent us from walking around Tel Aviv, Sderot or any nature reserve in the land of Israel.”
Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades Terrorists Join Palestinian Security Forces
Yesterday, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, directed by Israel’s former U.N. Ambassador Dore Gold, translated and distributed a breaking news story from the leading Palestinian Authority newspaper, Al-Hayat, that terrorists from Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the military wing of Fatah in Judea and Samaria, which has been defined by the United States government as a terrorist organization, has been incorporated into the Palestinian security forces.
This has occurred at exactly the time that the Al-Aqsa Brigades continue to take credit for firing missiles at the Western Negev and Sderot in southern Israel.
The incorporation of Al-Aqsa Brigades into the security forces was confirmed by the interior minister in the Fayyad government, Maj.-Gen. Abdel Razak Yahya, in the piece that ran in Al-Hayat.
According to the Palestinian interior minister, the security organizations will be reformed on a professional basis and will use light weapons recently imported for them by the Palestinian Authority (PA). However, the minister stressed that the weapons are not sufficient and that the security organizations suffer from a severe lack of weapons and ammunition, but he refused to detail the quantity that Israel had allowed them to import into PA territory.
IDF Officer: Targeted Killing Operations In Gaza More Accurate
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) has received its share of criticism for the collateral damage it caused in targeted killings of terrorists. Most recently, as part of the effort to end the Kassam rocket fire on the western Negev, the IAF has been operating in the skies of the Gaza Strip. Israeli Defense Force (IDF) officials reported a dramatic drop in the collateral damage caused by such strikes and take pride in the fact that the IAF has successfully struck at 40 terrorists without having even a single uninvolved Palestinian injured. One high-ranking officer ascribed this success to increased cooperation among the IDF, the GSS and the Mossad.
According to IDF data, in the past an average of one Palestinian non-combatant casualty would be produced in every strike on a terrorist.
Now, say security officials, the average number of non-combatants casualties has dropped to an average of one non-combatant casualty for every three terrorist casualties.
A high-ranking IDF officer ascribed this success mainly to increased cooperation among the IDF, the GSS and the Mossad in real time. “An excellent relationship has been created whose fruits are clear to see on the ground.” The officer said that three things were needed so that a targeted killing operation would be of the highest caliber: accurate intelligence in real time, planning and control of the event and accurate fire.
A year ago, IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Eliezer Shkedi permitted IDF Southern Command intelligence and operations officers to enter the IAF’s intelligence squadron’s headquarters, which until then was under top-secret classification. By sharing information, the IAF commander let the Southern Command officers learn the way in which the “pool of targets” in the Gaza Strip was created while monitoring terrorist infrastructure and the terrorists themselves.
“The learning process ripened,” said the high-ranking officer. “The result is that the pool of targets has expanded. The integrative intelligence in real time expanded the impact of the operation.”
He said that the IDF was currently succeeding in “closing the cycle of fire.”
He said, “The intelligence, thanks to cooperation among the GSS, the Mossad and the IAF, allows us to achieve a high percentage of hits.”
He said that planning a targeted killing operation in real time sometimes took only a few minutes and that in certain cases even less than a minute.
“We have developed both a military doctrine and weaponry that have proven themselves,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that tomorrow we won’t have another mishap, but in the past month we hit 40 terrorists without hitting any non-combatants. That isn’t only thanks to the technology but mainly to the people.”
David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2007