TEL AVIV Ñ Israel's military has drafted a plan to respond to the
expected death of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat.
Officials said the military's Central Command has drafted and submitted
to the General Staff a plan meant to counter insurgency attacks or massive
civil unrest in wake of Arafat's death. The plan, dubbed "New Leaf," was
said to have been drafted in 2003 and updated several times as Arafat's
Central Command covers the West Bank and according to the plan the
military would avoid a presence around Ramallah during the organization of a
post-Arafat leadership. On Friday, Arafat was flown to a military hospital
in Paris for treatment.
"We don't have to plan too much for additional attacks," Maj. Gen. Amos
Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry's political-military bureau, said. "We
are already under attack."
Officials said the military plan called for an emergency deployment of
forces to guard against any Palestinian offensive. The plan would place
Israeli forces around West Bank cities and along key roads to prevent
Palestinian attacks Israeli motorists and residents.
The plan would also prevent Palestinians from leaving for demonstrations
from West Bank cities and approaching Israeli military outposts or civilian
communities. About 200,000 Israelis live in the West Bank.
The decline in Arafat's condition has been accompanied by mortar attacks
on Israeli communities in the Gaza Strip. On Thursday, an Israeli soldier
was killed and six others were injured in a combined mortar shell and
shooting attack at an outpost near the Israeli community of Morag in the
southern Gaza Strip.
Later, the military reported the killing of a Hamas insurgent
responsible for a suicide bombing at Israel's security fence near Kalkilya
in September 2004. The insurgent was identified as Ibrahim Issa, 47, and a
military communique reported the capture of 19 bombs.
The military has also drafted a set of scenarios in the aftermath of
Arafat's death. They included a Palestinian effort to bury Arafat in
Jerusalem and the prospect of fighting within PA security forces.
Officials said Arafat would not be buried in Jerusalem. But the military
plan envisioned the prospect that the PA chairman would be interned in the
Jerusalem suburb of Abu Dis.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon held what his office termed
security consultations regarding Arafat's decline. A statement by Sharon's
office said the prime minister received a "comprehensive and exhaustive
"Prime Minister Sharon instructed Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz to hold a
comprehensive security assessment of the situation forthwith," the statement
said. "The prime minister directed that the next Cabinet meeting include a
special discussion on events in the PA and that the Cabinet receive
exhaustive briefings from senior security establishment officials on the