Suicide Bomber's Home Town To Be Given To PA Control
Sunday, March 6, 2005
(IsraelNN.com) PA Security chief Haj Ismail Jabar announced a short while ago that in his meeting tonight with Israeli counterpart Brigadier General Gadi Eisencott, Israel agreed to turn over control of the Tul Karem area to PA forces of Tuesday. After that the sides would meet again to discuss other pullouts. The plan to turn towns over to the PA is being resumed after a week and a half hiatus. It was halted in the wake of the suicide bombing at a Tel Aviv nightclub in Tel Aviv. The murderer, a member of the Islamic Jihad, had come from the Tul Karem area which will now be entrusted to PA security.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday he cannot impose law and order in the Palestinian areas until Israel hands over control of West Bank cities. He urged Israel to return to talks concerning their transfer.
"We have no control on the ground," Abbas said at a news conference in Ramallah.
Israel had promised to hand over five cities following a February 8 cease-fire declaration at a summit in Sharm e-Sheikh but suspended talks after a Palestinian suicide bomber killed five Israelis at a Tel Aviv nightclub last Friday night.
Abbas urged Israel to resume talks with the PA as soon as possible and to implement the understandings reached at last month's summit.
"The Israeli government has suspended contacts with us and we call on it to renew them quickly and to implement the Sharm e-Sheikh understandings," Abbas told reporters in Ramallah after meeting with a Japanese envoy to the Middle East.
"We had talks with the Israelis about a possible withdrawal from Jericho and Tulkarm, but unfortunately there were some differences that could have been overcome," he said. "But the Israeli government decided to freeze the talks."
Abbas said that as long as the IDF remained in the West Bank, the PA couldn't be responsible for controlling the security situation. "For now we can't be responsible and no one can hold us responsible because we don't even have control over Ramallah," he added.
He said the problem at present was that the IDF was going in and out of Palestinian cities, making it impossible for the PA to assume its security responsibilities.
Abbas also attacked Israel's policy on settlements and the construction of the security fence, noting that the international community had supported the PA position on these issues.
Abbas reiterated his condemnation of the suicide attack in Tel Aviv, but pointed out that the perpetrators came from areas where the PA has no security control. He said that the PA was continuing to investigate the attack, adding that there was no proof that Syria or Iran were involved.
PA security officials said over the weekend that its security forces in Tulkarm were holding four suspects in connection with the suicide bombing. They said the detainees were all members of Islamic Jihad, the group that claimed responsibility for the bombing.
Israeli officials said there would be no more talks until the PA finds those behind the Tel Aviv bombing, and they accused Abbas of dragging his feet.
"We are waiting to hear the results of the [Palestinian] investigation into the bombing that came from the very same city they want us to hand over," said Assaf Shariv, a spokesman for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
The bomber came from a village near Tulkarm, one of the first places slated for transfer.
"We are waiting to see what he [Abbas] will do, so far it is not a lot," Shariv said.
Abbas poses pragmatic for the Western press, while the PA Media Portray Feb. 25's Suicide Bomber of a Tel Aviv Night Club as a Hero fighting for Allah.
While PA leader Mahmoud Abbas issues tersely worded condemnations of the February 25th suicide bombing of a Tel Aviv night club, the PA news media has been glorifying the memory of the bomber, Abdalla Badran, calling him a "shahid", a martyr, a person who died for the highest ideals of Islam.
Taking a page right out of Arafat's book, Abbas has been projecting a moderate, pragmatic image abroad while the PA's state-controlled media depicts the suicide bomber as a hero fighting for Allah.
The daily newspaper, Al-Ayyam, for example called Badran's family, "the family of the Shahid" and the bomber an "istish-shahid" a shahid who sought death for Allah and succeeded.
Another paper, Al-Hayat Al-Jedida, printed a giant color photo of the terrorist on the front page with a caption calling him the "Executor of the Tel Aviv Operation", a caption more appropriate for a fighter carrying out a daring commando raid behind enemy lines than for a terrorist who killed five innocent people at a birthday party.
PA officials interviewed in Arabic expressed dissatisfaction over the attack, not because innocent people were killed, but because the timing was bad.
Hasan Asfour, a member of the PA parliament said to PA television, "This is the first action that no one is happy about. Everyone felt that the timing is not [right] and there is absolutely no need for it... It is not because the resistance against the occupation is a mistake, but because the nature, location and timing of the action are a mistake."
Under Abbas' PA, killing Jews is still mainly a question of the finding the right location and timing.
Abbas To Time Magazine: Israel Caused Tel Aviv Bombing, Israel Proper Is His Country, And Welcomes Hamas
New York - Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority (PA), said yesterday that "the Israelis are responsible" for the recent Tel Aviv suicide bombing that murdered 5 Israelis and injured dozens more. He asserted this in his first English-language interview since taking office in January. It was published in the March 7, 2005 edition of Time Magazine.
When Abbas was asked by Time, "Who was responsible for the Tel Aviv attacks?" he answered, "If you ask me who is responsible, the Israelis are responsible. The bombers came from the suburb of Tulkaem to Tel Aviv, crossing the wall. So who is responsible? The wall and the Israelis."
Another question posed by Time Magazine was, "You were born in Safed, in what is now Israel. How did it feel when you went back for a visit in 1995?" Abbas answered, "Very sad. It's my country..."
When the reporter stated that "Israelis and Americans are shocked to think Hamas could be in your parliament...because they won seats in municipal elections in January..." Abbas answered, "Why not? Hamas should be in the parliament."
Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein said, "Holocaust Denier Abbas' shocking statements that Israel is responsible for Palestinian Arabs murdering Jews, that the terrorist group Hamas should be in the cabinet, and that Israel is really his (the Palestinian Arabs) land and country makes it crystal clear that Abbas is following in Arafat's uncompromising, bloody and belligerent footsteps.
"It is painful to see that every day Abbas makes it more and more clear he is simply Arafat in a suit. He recently executed dozens of Palestinians who helped Israel root out Palestinian terrorists, while he continues refusing to dismantle or disarm the terror groups, end all the incitement, close the bomb factories, or arrest the hundreds of terrorists walking free. We urge Congress and President Bush not to hand over $350M in U.S. taxpayers' dollars and not to invite Abbas to the White House until he fulfills all of his commitments to the Road Map, starts talking like a peacemaker who supports Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, and apologizes for his Holocaust denial."
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz is to meet with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in the coming days to arrange the transfer of Palestinian cities, IDF officials said Sunday.
According to defense officials, Mofaz will also pressure Abbas to take offensive action against Palestinian terror groups, including disarming and dismantling them.
Mofaz is also expected to discuss improving security coordination between Israel and the Palestinians.
On Sunday night, OC IDF forces in Judea and Samaria Brig.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot met with Gen. Haj Ismail Jabber, the commander of Palestinian forces in the West Bank. The two discussed Israel's conditions for transferring the cities, which focuses on a serious crackdown on terror.
Following the meeting, Jabber had announced that Israel had agreed in principle to begin the hand over the West Bank town of Tulkarm to Palestinian control Tuesday, but IDF officials adamantly denied the report.
"It was agreed in principle that the Israeli army will begin Tuesday withdrawing from Tulkarm and the areas around the town, and afterward we will discuss the Israeli withdrawal from the other towns in the West Bank," Jabber told The Associated Press.
IDF officials stressed that no transfer would take place until after the slated meeting between Mofaz and Abbas, for which an exact date has not yet been set, Army Radio quoted.
A senior Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said government approval was necessary before the pullout could begin. He said Tulkarm would be the first town to be handed over, if the Palestinians can fulfill their obligations.
Israel put a freeze on the handover of five towns and the release of 400 more prisoners, agreed on last month when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas declared a truce to end four years of bloodshed, after an suicide bomb attack Feb. 25 at a Tel Aviv nightclub which killed five Israelis.
While there has been a dramatic reduction in attacks on Israeli targets in the Gaza Strip, there has actually been a slight increase in shooting and stoning attacks in the West Bank. The latest was Sunday when gunmen opened fire at the settlement o f Kadim in northern Samaria. There were no reported injuries or damage.
The increased hostility is mainly attributed to the foot dragging over the transfer of Palestinian cities to their control. Some voices in the IDF are pushing to move beyond the present situation and hand over the cities as soon as possible, even if it comes at a cost of turning over more territory or removing roadblocks. Commanders are uncomfortable with the current situation since it restricts offensive actions against terrorists.
The number of Palestinian fugitives arrested by IDF troops this past week was just over a dozen. In comparison, some 100 were arrested weekly in January. Less arrests means less intelligence, which means less foiling of attacks. The IDF has adopted a lower signature across the West Bank. Because of the ceasefire, more emphasis has been put on defensive actions and increase patrols on major roads and around settlements.
Israel Set to Withdraw from Key Cities Despite Terror Upsurge
Monday, March 7, 2005
Despite an upsurge in the frequency and severity of terrorist attacks, the IDF is going ahead with plans to transfer control of five key cities in Judea and Samaria to the Palestinian Authority.
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz is scheduled to meet with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in the next few days in order to coordinate the IDF withdrawal. The withdrawal, agreed upon at the Sharon-Abbas summit in Sharm El-Sheik, has been held up due to a terrorist attack on a Tel Aviv night club on February 25, which killed five and wounded 50.
The suicide bomber came from Tulkarem, one of the first cities to be handed over to the PA in according to the withdrawal schedule.
PA reports that the handover will commence as early as tomorrow should be treated with caution, say IDF officials. While not denying the reports, IDF sources said that no withdrawals will take place until after the Mofaz-Abbas meeting. A date for the meeting has yet to be announced.
Haj Ismail Jabber, commander of PA forces in Judea and Samaria, said after meeting with Brig.Gen. Gadi Eizenkot on Sunday, that "it was agreed in principle that the Israeli army will begin Tuesday withdrawing from Tulkarem and the areas around the town, and afterward we will discuss the Israeli withdrawals from the other towns" in Judea and Samaria.
It is unclear how today's attack at the Ma'arat haMachpelah (Tomb of the Patriarchs) in Hebron will impact the planned withdrawal. According to Hebron residents, the IDF effectively withdrew from 80% of Hebron on February 13 in a redeployment move that was dictated by political, not military interests.
Warnings from the Hebron Jewish community that the IDF withdrawals from parts of the city would precipitate a terrorist attack went unheeded.
IDF Force Kills Terrorist Involved in Tel Aviv Attack Thursday, March 10, 2005
Following the failure of the PA to locate the perpetrators of the terror attack on the Stage club on the Tel Aviv boardwalk, the IDF has taken action, killing one of the terrorists involved.
The IDF and the GSS (General Security Service) launched a joint operation early Thursday morning to apprehend Mohammed Abad Altif Hasin Halil, 26. Halil was hiding in the village of Nazlat A-Wasta, north of Tul Karem.
Originally from Tul Karem, Halil took part in planning and facilitating the Tel Aviv boardwalk bombing two weeks ago, in which five Israelis were killed. He also took part in rigging a vehicle full of explosives meant to be detonated just a few days after the Tel Aviv attack by crashing it into a busload of soldiers. The truck-bomb was uncovered in the Arrabeh area on February 28 and neutralized.
An IDF Paratrooper force, together with members of the Oketz dog-handling unit, encircled Halil's house early this morning and repeatedly called for him to come out. Everyone in the house left, with the exception of Halil.
When Halil continued to refuse to give himself up, the IDF force sent a search dog towards the house. Halil, hiding in the attic, saw the dog approaching and shot it, killing it on the spot. Halil then began shooting at the soldiers surrounding the house. The soldiers returned fire and hurled hand grenades at the house in an attempt to drive Halil out. Finally, an IDF bulldozer began to demolish the structure, but Halil did not take advantage of his last chance to leave, and he was killed in the destruction. His body and pistol were recovered from the rubble.
Nafez Azzam, an Islamic Jihad terrorist chief in Gaza, told the Associate Press that the killing of Halil "does not encourage us to continue the state of calmness that currently exists on the ground. The resistance will continue in the face of the aggression against our people."
IDF forces also apprehended two terrorists north of Jenin, one from Hamas and the other from Islamic Jihad. A wanted man was arrested in Hevron as well.
South of Jenin, Arabs opened fire on an IDF position today, failing to cause injury.
Chaos in the Palestinian Authority resumed today in Ramallah. At around noon, 20 armed terrorists from Fatah's Al-Aksa Brigades interrupted a meeting of 1,200 members of the Fatah party, vandalizing the hall, ordering attendees out of the building and shooting in the air. Their gripe was that they had not been invited to the meeting. Fatah is headed by PA chairman Abu Mazen.