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Wednesday, April 6, 2011     GET REAL

Libyan opposition: Palestinian smuggler supplying Gadhafi with Israeli weapons

CAIRO — The Libyan opposition, amid its failure to topple Col. Moammar Gadhafi, has accused Israel of supplying weapons to the Tripoli regime.


The opposition has charged that Israeli weapons were being supplied to the Gadhafi regime through a senior Palestinian official. Libyan opposition member Omar Khadraoui identified the official as Mohammed Dahlan, former Palestinian Authority security chief and now a member of the Fatah Central Committee. The Libyan rebel said Dahlan was working with an unidentified Iraqi Kurd.

"Dahlan is behind a deal to supply internationally-forbidden weapons to Col. Gadhafi," Khadraoui said.

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In an interview with the Algerian daily Echorouk, Khadraoui did not identify the weapons purportedly ordered by Gadhafi. Khadraoui said Dahlan brought a ship loaded with Israeli weapons from Greece to Tripoli. The weapons were said to have been acquired from an unidentified Israeli supplier.

"Revolutionaries in Misrata seized a portion of those weapons," Khadraoui said on April 2.

This marked the first time that Israel was linked to the Libyan rebellion, which began in February. Over the last month, Libya has been under a naval blockade by NATO to prevent weapons from reaching Gadhafi or the rebels.

NATO has acknowledged allowing foreign ships that transported fuel and other non-combat equipment to arrive in Tripoli for the Gadhafi regime. In contrast, the Libyan rebel movement has accused NATO warships of blocking food supplies to the besieged city of Misrata.

Dahlan, long linked to weapons smuggling, has maintained ties to Israeli officials and executives. In late 2010, Dahlan left the West Bank for Jordan amid accusations that he was attempting to overthrow Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Dahlan has denied that he was supplying weapons to Gadhafi.

Fatah has announced an investigation of the Libyan rebel allegations against Dahlan. The movement's Central Committee said Dahlan's membership had been suspended and that he was under investigation on charges of corruption.

"The Central Committee emphasizes that it contravenes the principles of the movement and the interests of the Palestinian people and to ensure the hard non-interference in Arab affairs," Fatah said in a statement on April 5.

In the interview, Khadraoui accused Gadhafi, who has frequently called for the destruction of the Jewish state, of maintaining links with Israel. The Libyan opposition member said Dahlan served as a liasion between Israel and the Libyan ruler.

"Col. Gadhafi pretends to be against Israel, but actually he has strong ties with it through Dahlan," Khadraoui said.

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