Israel accuses Palestinians of staging counter-terror raids

Special to World
Tuesday, August 19, 2003

JERUSALEM Israel has accused the Palestinian Authority of staging counter-insurgency operations in an effort to impress the United States.

An Israeli government report asserted that PA Security Affairs Minister Mohammed Dahlan has approved several operations that sought to prove that Palestinian security services have been battling Palestinian insurgents. The report, prepared by Israel's intelligence community, said the operations staged the confiscation of weapons and explosives as well as the arrest of suspected insurgents.

In several cases, the report said, the PA's Preventive Security Apparatus assembled suicide belts and placed them in unspecified locations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Then, the PSA invited television news crews, staged a raid on the these locations and displayed the suicide belts, attributed to insurgency groups. The PSA is under the direct control of Dahlan and is part of the Interior Ministry.

The report, submitted to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said the PA is also suspected of staging arrests of suspected suicide bombers and seizing insurgency assets. In at least one case, the PA was said to have relayed information to Israel on a purported suicide bomber who might have been sent by the PA's Military Intelligence.

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The PA staged counter-insurgency operations in an attempt to demonstrate its commitment to the United States to battle Palestinian insurgency groups, the report said. A U.S. team led by presidential envoy John Wolf has been monitoring the Israeli and PA commitment to the so-called roadmap, which calls for an end to the Israeli-Palestinian war and the establishment of a Palestinian state with interim borders by the end of 2003.

The government study, first reported on Tuesday by Israel's state radio, came less than two days after Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the Cabinet that the PA has undertaken more intensive security efforts against Palestinian insurgents. Mofaz did not elaborate.

"It's the first I ever heard of this [report]," Israeli minister Gideon Ezra, who deals with Palestinian security officers, said.

But other ministers said the Cabinet has been briefed by senior intelligence officials that the PA had staged counter-insurgency operations. They said the PA has allowed insurgency groups to accelerate the production of rockets and mortars while urging them to cease suicide attacks inside Israel.

Officials said that Hamas gunners fired 20 Kassam-class missiles toward Israel and Israeli communities in the Gaza Strip since Palestinian insurgency groups declared a three-month truce on June 29. On Monday, a Kassam missile fired toward an Israeli community fell in an area controlled by the PA.

On Tuesday, Sharon convened military and security chiefs to discuss an Israeli agreement to withdraw from four cities in the West Bank. Officials said the withdrawal was expected to begin on Wednesday.

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