RAMALLAH ø The United States has determined that Palestinian
Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat approved an attack on a U.S. embassy convoy
in which three Americans were killed in 2003.
In October, a bomb exploded as a U.S. embassy convoy passed through the
northern Gaza Strip on the way to a meeting in Gaza City. Three U.S. embassy
security guards ø protecting American visitors who were to discuss the
Fulbright Program ø were killed in the attack next to the Jabalya refugee
A Fatah-aligned group later claimed responsibility, Middle East Newsline reported. The U.S. sources
said the attack was planned and directed by elements within the Palestinian
U.S. diplomatic sources said a U.S. investigation into the bombing of
the embassy convoy in the Gaza Strip in October 2003 pointed to a clear role
by Arafat. The sources said Arafat granted approval to a plan to strike U.S.
interests in PA areas.
Arafat, the sources said, did not draft or approve any details for a
Palestinian attack. But they said Arafat agreed to a proposal relayed by a
high-level aide for the Palestinians to "pass a message" to the United
According to the sources, a senior Arafat aide and member of the Fatah
Central Committee left Gaza City for Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah in
September 2003 to seek approval for a Palestinian attack on U.S. interests
in the area. The Fatah official, described as a liasion between Arafat and
Palestinian insurgents in the Gaza Strip, complained of U.S. policy toward
the PA and Arabs.
During their meeting, the sources said, the official asked Arafat
whether it was time to relay a message to the United States. Arafat was said
to have replied, "May God bless this," which translated into "Go ahead," the
"Arafat did not require or want details of this plan," a U.S. diplomatic
source said. "That's not his style. He has always wanted to maintain an
element of deniability."
Weeks after the attack, PA security forces arrested and charged four
Palestinians with the bombing. But U.S. officials said the defendants were
not the actual suspects and in March 2004 they were ordered released by the
[On Monday, Israeli troops foiled a Palestinian insurgency attack on the
Israeli community of Netsarim outside Gaza City. The insurgents ø
said to come from Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad ø fired mortars, hurled
grenades and employed small arms fire in an attempted raid of the
U.S. officials said the failure of the PA to capture the killers of the
American security guards has marked a major impediment to U.S.-Palestinian
relations. They said the PA was warned that the United States would not
approve any funding for the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of a planned Israeli
Palestinian National Security Adviser Jibril Rajoub has been sent to
Washington to meet senior U.S. officials to discuss the Israeli withdrawal
plan. Rajoub, scheduled to be joined by PA International Cooperation
Minister Nabil Shaath, was expected to discuss the PA's
role in ensuring security in the Gaza Strip after any Israeli pullout.