Hizbullah pays up to $40,000
per bombing that kills Israelis

Special to World
Thursday, February 26, 2004

JERUSALEM Hizbullah has instituted a payment system that rewards Palestinian insurgents for each Israeli casualty.

Israeli officials said Hizbullah revised its payment system in 2003 to encourage mass casualties in Israel. They said Hizbullah set a scale that pays for each Israeli Jew killed in a strike.

The result has been Hizbullah payments that have ranged from $25,000 and $40,000 per suicide bombing, officials said. Hizbullah was said to have been the major sponsor of Palestinian suicide bombings inside Israel over the last six months.

Most of the Hizbullah agents in the West Bank, the officials said, have been Fatah insurgents.

They said the insurgents were paid a salary as well as bonuses for each Israeli casualty, regardless of the circumstances.

[On Wednesday, Israel's military, in an unprecedented operation, raided 13 Palestinian banks in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Israeli military sources said the operation was meant to seize assets of Palestinian insurgency groups and money transfers by Hizbullah as well as by foreign-based liasions of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.]

Hizbullah's new system, officials said, was meant to encourage recruitment for suicide attacks. Officials said Palestinian insurgency groups were dismayed by the level of recruits in 2003 many of them teenagers who often were captured or blew themselves up before reaching their targets.

Israel Security Agency director Avi Dichter confirmed Hizbullah's leading role in Palestinian insurgency attacks. He said Hizbullah has supplied financing and expertise to Palestinian insurgency groups in an effort to extend the range of lethality of attacks.

"Iran is the number one sponsor of terrorism," Dichter told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday. "They have a dossier on potential Israeli and Jewish targets and can organize and carry out attacks within a short time."

Dichter said Fatah and Hamas were also seeking to develop the first Palestinian artillery platforms. Dichter said the Palestinian groups want to assemble artillery and rocket and missile systems to attack Israel after it completes the security fence and barrier along the West Bank.

Hamas has fired about 120 Kassam-class short-range missiles from the Gaza Strip toward communities in Israel. In 2001, Israel completed a security fence along the Gaza Strip.

In Washington, CIA director George Tenet said that in 2003 "Palestinian terrorist groups conducted more than 600 attacks, killing about 200 Israelis and foreigners, including Americans." Tenet told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday that Hizbullah has increased its support to Palestinian insurgency groups and the Beirut-based movement would respond to any attack against Iran or Syria with strikes against U.S. and Israeli targets around the world.

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