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Israeli Agency Sheds Light on Terror Axis (ISRAEL INSIDER COMMENTARY) By P. David Hornik 01/27/05)Source: http://web.israelinsider.com/views/4881.htm ISRAEL INSIDER ISRAEL INSIDER Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Common pieties about the "Israeli-Palestinian conflict" as a "struggle between two peoples" ignore the fact that the conflict is now in large part a proxy war fueled by the Iran-Syria-Hizbullah axis.

That is not to say many Palestinians don´t share their patrons´ aim of destroying the Jewish state. The Palestinian battle itself, however, which spiked dramatically two months after Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians a state in almost all the territories at Camp David in July 2000, has lost some of its momentum because of a lack of results and an effective Israeli counterattack. The Iran-Syria-Hizbullah axis is now picking up the slack.

As detailed in a recent report by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC), an Israeli agency at the Center for Special Studies near Tel Aviv, "one of the major trends in 2004 was Iran´s growing involvement in Palestinian terrorism through Hizbullah, used by the Iranians as an operative leverage vis-´-vis Israel."

Until summer 2004, Hizbullah tried hard to cover up its role in supporting Palestinian terror. But after the July 19 assassination in Beirut of Hizbullah operative Ghaleb Awali, Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah went public about this involvement for the first time.

In a eulogy at Awali´s funeral, Nasrallah said: "Today, we give away Ghaleb Awali as a martyr of Lebanon. He is also a martyr of Palestine. For the martyr Ghaleb Awali . . . belonged to [those who] in recent years dedicated their lives to supporting the brothers in occupied Palestine. We do not wish to hide the truth. We declare it openly and take pride in it. Ghaleb Awali is today a martyr in the path of Palestine. He is a martyr of Jerusalem. He is a martyr of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. He is a martyr of the confrontation with the Zionist enterprise" (Al-Manar Television, July 19, 2004).

According to the ITIC, the terror axis has two main objectives in orchestrating Palestinian terror in the territories. One is that since Israel´s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, assisting Palestinian terror has been a way of preserving Hizbullah´s belligerent, jihad- like character despite the constraints of operating across the Lebanese border. The second is that Hizbullah and its supporting states, Iran and Syria, regard continuing and even escalating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as "a valuable strategic device for undermining Israel´s internal social and political stability, and as a potential [means of] extorting concessions from Israel."

Hizbullah, the ITIC notes, "operates dozens of terrorist . . . groups in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. In 2004, these cells perpetrated 68 terrorist attacks, killing 24 Israelis (approximately 21% of the 117 Israelis killed in terrorist attacks in 2004) and injuring 52 (approximately 8% of the 589 Israelis wounded in terrorist attacks in 2004)."

Hizbullah orchestrates Palestinian terror via several methods:

* Giving instructions to terrorists "inside" the territories to perpetrate mass-murder attacks in Israel.

* Dispatching Palestinians from the "outside" (usually Arab countries) to carry out terrorist missions in Israel.

* Mediating between operatives at various focal points within the territories.

* Working to upgrade the capacities of the terrorist infrastructures in the territories-specifically, providing know-how on explosives, delivering high-quality weaponry, and sending operatives from the "inside" for military training abroad.

Another major Hizbullah contribution to Palestinian terror is funding. Along with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hizbullah makes large fund transfers to the territories from terrorist headquarters in Syria. The sums are provided to operatives who make a living by coordinating terrorist activities, not necessarily for ideological motivations. Many Palestinian suicide bombers have been people with financial and social problems who agree to perpetrate attacks in exchange for financial support to their families after their deaths.

As the ITIC details, in 2004 Israeli security forces arrested several terrorists who, in their interrogations, gave information on the fine points of how Hizbullah funds terror:

* Ahmed Sari Hussein, an Islamic Jihad terrorist from Tulkarm in the West Bank, was involved in a suicide bombing in the town of Netanya on March 30, 2003 that injured 32. He received about $2200 in advance for his activities from the then-Islamic Jihad chief in Tulkarm. A Hizbullah handler from Lebanon told him he would receive additional funds only if he went through with carrying out attacks.

* Wael Ghanem, a Fatah Tanzim operative from the Tulkarm refugee camp, was in contact with a handler from Lebanon who gave him $7,000 in exchange for manufacturing explosives, $1,500 for buying arms, and $10,000 for funding his terrorist activity (the money was deposited in the bank accounts of women he was involved with).

* Muntasir Abu Ghalyoun, one of the Fatah Tanzim leaders in Jenin, was involved in planning and funding numerous terrorist attacks, including four shooting attacks in June 2003 that killed four civilians. In his interrogation, he said the basic fee for carrying out a terrorist attack came to about $650-$1100.

In light of all the above, there could be nothing more ominous than the cease-fire or hudna that new PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas is trying to work out with the various Palestinian terror organizations. The requirement, often stated by Israeli and American officials, that the PA must "disarm the terror organizations and confiscate their weapons" easily gets lost in translation into "Just keep things quiet for a while, so Israel can withdraw from territory. Meanwhile, you can regroup and rebuild, deepen your ties with your foreign sponsors, whatever-so long as the situation on the ground looks good for a while."

Indeed, an earlier hudna in summer 2003, which Mahmoud Abbas also helped "orchestrate" in his then-role as PA prime minister under Arafat, was punctuated with small-scale terror attacks that were ignored, till it ended in a well-planned August 19 bus bombing in Jerusalem that killed 21.

If, on the other hand, the U.S. and/or Israel will be acting aggressively against the Iran-Syria-Hizbullah axis or part of it, it is difficult to see why Israel should be rushing to hand over tactically and strategically sensitive territory in Gaza and Samaria at a time when the situation is fluid and Palestinian terror may yet lose much of its support. (© 2001-2005 Koret Communications Ltd. 01/27/05)

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