|Israel Resource Review
||11th July, 2002
Then Justice Minister Yose Beilin:
Revelation that he Supported the "Right of Return" at Taba
Senior Writer, HaAretz
If the Israeli left doesn't act before it's too late, the coming election
campaign will focus on the following 90 words: "Since 1948, the Palestinians' yearning has been enshrined in the twin principles of the `right of return' and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state deriving the basis from International Law. The realization of the aspirations of the Palestinian people, as recognized in this agreement, includes the exercise of their right to self-determination and the comprehensive and just solution for the Palestinian refugees, based on UN General Assembly Resolution 194, providing for their return and guaranteeing the future welfare and well-being of the refugees, thereby addressing the refugee problem in all its aspects."
Yasser Arafat didn't write those 90 words, nor did Nabil Sha'ath or Yasser
Abed Rabbo. They are Article 7 of a document that was given to the official
representatives of the Palestinian people at Taba, on January 23, 2001.
Then-justice minister Yossi Beilin, head of the Israeli team on the refugee
issue, wrote them. The meaning is clear: acceptance of the idea of return.
Israeli acceptance that an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement would be based on adopting the principle of return as it appears in UN General Assembly Resolution 194.
UN resolution 194 was passed in the UN on December 11, 1948. Article 11 of the decision says clearly: "The refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the
earliest practicable date." Therefore there's no room for mumbo jumbo about
this. No pulling of wool over the eyes. The combination of Article 7 in
Beilin's Taba document and the official language of 194 yields full
Israeli and international recognition of the right of the Palestinian
refugees to return to their homes in Palestine as soon as possible.
This is politically explosive material, and it's doubtful if the state of
Israel could withstand the blast.
Beilin believes he neutralized the device through two other formulations that appear in the document he drafted. Article 5 of the non-paper clarifies that "the desire to return will be implemented in such a way that will confirm to the existence of the state of Israel and the homeland of the Jewish people."
Article 8 says that the return to Israel "will be limited to an agreed number of refugees." Thus, seemingly, the dramatic document says one thing and its opposite. On the one hand, it gives the right of return to the refugees wherever they are, some 4 million people, a sweeping right of return (which includes Israel inside the Green Line boundaries) and on the other hand, it proposes mechanisms for immigration that will not allow more than a few tens of thousands to actually come.
That internal contradiction is dangerous. When Israel withdraws to the
corrected 1967 borders and stands opposite a sovereign Palestinian state, its security margins will be very narrow. It cannot allow itself any mistakes or ambiguity. Therefore it needs an unequivocal Palestinian retreat from the demand for the right of return.
But the Taba document does not give Israel that bare necessary minimum. On
the contrary, the Taba document intensifies the pressure for return by
upgrading the principle. It turns UNGAR 194 from a sleepy recommendation by
the UN to a relevant decision that makes a commitment and founded in
international law. At the same time, Beilin's document denies Israel the
safety net that the Clinton Framework offered: an explicit declaration that
the right of return does not extend to Israel proper. The former Israeli
minister makes a whole series of proposals on critical issues that endanger
Israel far more than the former American president's. Thus, from the Israeli point of view, the Taba document is a breathtaking gamble. It opens the gates of sovereign Israel to an uncontrollable process of return.
Israeli media coverage of the Taba document was feeble. The most fateful 90
words in the history of Israeli diplomacy did not get much attention. But
now, as welcome steps are being taken to form a new platform and framework
for the Zionist left, it is impossible to ignore any longer what took place
at Taba. Those who believe in the basic historical justice of the Zionist
left must make clear that they reject what was done in the name of the
historical left on January 23, 2001.
Yossi Sarid was at Taba. He does not like the Taba document and he well
understands where it could lead Israel. He now has the responsibility to
declare openly that the Taba document is annulled. The more responsible and
wiser leader of the peace camp must make clear that the united peace party he is building disassociates itself from the Taba document as well as the spirit and concepts of Taba. If Sarid doesn't do so, the new social democratic party will become, whether it likes it or not, the party for return and end up on the fringes of Israeli politics
This article ran in haAretz on July 11, 2002
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Documents Seized From Arafat's
Senior Investigative Jorunalist, Yediot Aharonot
On September 14, 1998, a figure who was anonymous at the time to most of the Israeli public, Marwan Barghouti, the Fatah secretary general on the West Bank, wrote a short memo to the boss, Yasser Arafat, that read: "In honor of Brother President Abu Amar, may God protect him, in the name of the homeland and of the return, I request your decision in the matter of employing four of the brothers, members of the Tamoun sub-district branch committee, to a full time position in one of the security organizations, so that they can be employed in the Tanzim." This is followed by a list of names and ends with a parting blessing: "and may you be leaders and commanders of the homeland and of the people, Marwan Barghouti."
On the margins of the page, diagonally, Arafat added a laconic order in his own hand to the three senior commanders of the security organizations: "Do what is needed to employ them."
This seemingly innocuous memo, which is published here for the first
time, is one of the numerous documents that prove the great fraud. Since
1997, Arafat and his men deliberately and systematically, and in blatant
violation of the agreements signed with Israel, created a series of
militias, shadow armies ostensibly unlinked to the Palestinian Authority.
They secretly relocated personnel and resources from the PA's security
organizations to these militias in order for them to compete with the
rising popularity of the Islamic terror organizations.
In fact, from the time of the Western Wall tunnel clashes [September
1996], the PA armed these militias in anticipation of a violent
confrontation with Israel. In January 2001, the Israeli public learned the
hard and painful way about the local Tanzim militias. Despite the Tanzim's
involvement in terror attacks, the PA leaders, particularly Arafat,
insisted that they were unconnected to the terror industry or that he had
any control over it. However, the hundreds of thousands of documents
seized in the course of Operation Defensive Shield, of which only a small
part have been translated until now, unequivocally prove that Arafat and
his men knew, initiated, prepared, fanned and continued to fan this fire.
The mukataa documents and the documents seized from Palestinian
headquarters in seven of the eight major cities in the West Bank are now
laid out in a huge IDF Intelligence hangar, which normally is used to store
APCs. Early last week a reserve soldier sat in the middle of the hangar,
wearing a T-shirt and army fatigue pants, eating tuna and going through a
document in Arabic taken from Rais Arafat's office. The air conditioner was
broken, and the reservist occasionally made use of the fascinating document
as a fan. All around him were huge piles of crates and drawers. Tons of
files and cartons, containing the most secret secrets of the Palestinian
Authority. In fact, the entire organizational memory of the PA is in
Israel's hands. A GSS official who works in the territories and is
familiar with the material seized, describes it as "the wettest dream I've
ever dreamed. This is a very rare situation, in which all our main
collection targets have become available overnight. Documents for which we
would have had to pay a fortune to agents just for part of them, are now
available to all, we just need enough people to read and translate them."
There does not appear to be anyone today, except perhaps for the
Palestinian Authority, who doubts the authenticity of the documents. The
question of credibility pertains only to the interpretation that the IDF
gives them. Thus far, for example, a single document has not been found
with Arafat's signature on an order to commit a terror attack, or an
admission that he knows that so and so committed or will commit a terror
attack. Nor does IDF Intelligence expect to find anything like that. If
Arafat approves a payment to someone, and Israel claims that that
individual was involved in terror, we can accept Israeli intelligence and
assume that Arafat knew of it -- or not. In some cases the verdict is
straightforward, since the documents show that the Palestinians themselves
knew very well who was doing want and who was wanted by Israel.
At first, the Palestinians contended that it was all a fabrication.
After that they said that the documents were authentic, but don't prove
anything. After that they again went back to the fabrication argument, and
recently conveyed a demand through European institutions to have the
documents returned to them, because they can't function without them.
After all, it's very hard to argue with documents with Arafat's signature
on them. IDF Intelligence has also made a graphological comparison between
Arafat's signature on the seized documents and his signature on the Oslo
accords, where he promised to eradicate terror.
Israel is gradually releasing parts of these documents to prove the PA's
direct involvement in terror. At first they were greeted with great
suspicion, but eventually acquired credibility and became the most
important factor for Bush's aggressive speech. Last week IDF Intelligence
opened the hangar to Yedioth Ahronoth for a rare glimpse. Most of the
documents reviewed here are being released for the first time. As far as
possible, they were examined independently and are not based on IDF
This partial sample unequivocally corroborates the most chilling
arguments of senior IDF Intelligence officers on the depth of the PA's
involvement in terror, on the great degree of details that Arafat
controlled when it came to approving expenditures, above and below the
table, and the great gap between the partner we imagined we had, the
partner we wanted, and what we got.
The Tanzim Shadow Army
In the 1995 interim agreement between Israel and the PA the official
Palestinian police forces were explicitly defined and the Palestinians
promised to create a uniform command hierarchy, under the control of the PA
Council. However, Arafat never honored these agreements and never dreamed
of dismantling the Tanzim. Just the opposite, he exploited the official
security organizations as surrogates for the undercover militias. More and
more requests to employ Tanzim activists on the payroll of the security
organizations piled up on the rais's desk. Thus, for example, in May 1999,
Bashir Naafa, a senior member of the General Security Service, writes to
Arafat about 35 people to whom he wants to pay a salary from the coffers of
General Intelligence for their practical employment in the Tanzim.
All in all, the documents show that around 130 activists, most of whom
belonged to Fatah but some were affiliated with other organizations, were
integrated by September 2000 in the local branches with the status of
"attaches" to the various security organizations. These people received a
salary from the PA, while in practice worked for the local militias.
By the start of the second Intifada, in September 2000, the PA had a
dilemma in regard to these "attaches." In January 2001 the Supreme Council
for National Security decided to return the attache employees to the
National Security Service. The employees themselves were opposed and wrote
a personal letter to Arafat, saying: "At this time the Tanzim is in
desperate need of more people… in light of the unusual conditions of the
Intifada and the leading role of Tanzim-Fatah in it, returning the fighters
to the General Security Service would have a negative effect on its
performance." Arafat turned the letter over to the commanders of his
security organizations and ultimately almost all the activists were kept as
part of the Tanzim.
One example of such an activist is Nasser Awis, the commander of the
El-Aksa Martyrs Brigades in Samaria, who officially was a captain in the
National Security Service, but who in practice belonged to the Tanzim in
Nablus. He operated cells that committed terror attacks, including,
according to Israeli intelligence, terror attacks in which 17 Israelis were
killed (the terror attack at the bat mitzva in Hadera in January 2001 and
others in Tel Aviv, Netanya and Jerusalem). Awis continued to receive a
salary in early 2002, even when he did not respond to calls to return to
the National Security Service. He was eventually arrested by the IDF in
April 2002. He admitted under questioning that he received money from the
PA thanks to the lists he passed on to Marwan Barghouti, who passed them to
Arafat. The money was sent in checks by means of the Nablus branch Fatah
Two other attache employees murdered Ophir Rahum on January 17, 2001.
Rahum was lured into coming to the territories by a honey trap on the
Internet. One of them was killed by Israel a short time later. The other
killer, Abed el-Fatah Tzabari Moussa Dola from Tanzim-Fatah in Ramallah,
demanded that he remain on the list of attache employees of the General
Security Service so as to continue to receive a salary from the PA -- four
months after the murder.
The documents show, therefore, unequivocally, that even when it was
clear to the senior PA echelons that members of its security organizations
were involved in terror, they did nothing, but continued to fund them.
Some of the documents seized show that not all the commanders in the field
were happy with this practice. Thus, for example, on February 21, 2001,
the commander of the General Security Service in the Hebron area, Abed
el-Fatah Jaidi, sent a detailed list to the rais's office of "soldiers from
the General Security Service in Hebron attached to the Tanzim-Fatah, who
have not reported back for service." He did what he was supposed to, but
the PA continued to pay the salaries of these activists. Other assistance
was given to the militias by means of direct allocations to local branches
as well as supplying them with arms.
The local militias, which were funded and armed by these methods,
ultimately served the purpose for which they were established, and were at
the forefront of the fight against Israel. They began to commit terror
attacks using the name El-Aksa Martyrs Brigades and, at the end of 2001,
they began to commit large-scale shooting attacks and in early 2002,
launched a murderous series of suicide bombing attacks inside Israel, in
which they later on also used women suicide bombers. These terror attacks
were led by the local Tanzim organizations in Nablus (where 30 attache
employees received a salary from the PA) and in Ramallah (40 attache
The strategic decision that Arafat made -- to strengthen the local
militias instead of dismantling them -- did not only work against Israel.
Ultimately it also led to the dismantling of the PA itself. The militias
turned into war barons who decided matters on the Palestinian street.
Their activists took over the food shipments and demanded that the
municipalities pay them a salary and cover their expenses for gas and
cellphones. Thus, for example, the El-Aksa Martyrs Brigades in Bethlehem
wrote in November 2001: "To the brothers, leaders of the Bethlehem
municipality and honored members of the council:
"May the blessing of the homeland be upon you. With the blessing of the
pure blood which saturates the soil of our beloved region, we greet you and
thank you for the enormous efforts you have made to build and develop this
district… we have an issue to raise with you. This issue is your
participation in a small part of the expenses of our daily needs, which are
very onerous for us. We pay a price that does not exceed NIS 5,000 a month
as membership dues for using the radios by members of the military branch.
In addition, we also pay for fuel, which is a basic and important component
for our moving from place to place, and this is in accordance with our
national interest… your participation in this will lead to our
glorification and our pride. […]"
Experience showed that those who tried to refuse such an appeal did not
enjoy good fortune. In the PA there is an extensive network of extortion
by elements connected to the PA toward Christian businessmen in the
Bethlehem area. Thus, for example, gold rings were found on the fingers of
the assassinated Atef Abayat -- rings that belonged to the Christian
businessman, George Nissan. In other cases, Fatah activists extorted
respected businessmen, owners of souvenir shops, property owners and gas
station owners in cooperation and in coordination with the Palestinian
security organizations, who would summon the businessmen for a talk to
clarify fabricated suspicions against them of collaboration with Israel.
Arafat's Note System
In one area Israeli PR efforts were counterproductive: it was said that
Arafat was out of it, it was said that he did not have control, the world's
attention was directed to his trembling lips. But he was not out of it,
absolutely not. One of the things that will make it difficult for Arafat
to deny his direct involvement in terror is his insistence on approving, in
his own hand, any expenditure exceeding USD 250 from the PA's defense
budget. This is the conclusion that IDF Intelligence has reached from the
documents that were seized and examined so far. This penchant of his made
him a very busy treasurer.
Thus, for example, in January 2001, he approved in his own hand-writing
to "supply immediately" arms to the militia known as the Popular Struggle
Front, commanded by Samir Rousha (30 Kalashnikov rifles and 15 pistols).
In May 2001 the same organization asked for "special help" for the fight
against Israel. Arafat approved that month USD 25,000 and a month later,
another USD 20,000. Arafat also approved paying USD 100 to each of the 65
activists of the Palestine Liberation Front, who were involved in the
fighting. During the same period, this organization carried out a suicide
bombing at the Checkpost intersection in Haifa, numerous shooting attacks
and planted bombs in the territories.
The seized documents show that Arafat did not interfere in the decisions
of the intermediate levels, who suggested who was eligible for aid, but
always made sure to reduce the amount. Thus, for example, in the letter of
July 2001 sent by the Fatah secretary in Bethlehem, Kamal Hamid, who asked
for USD 2,000 "for each of the brothers whose name appears below," Arafat
erased the numbers and wrote in his own hand "USD 300 for each man."
On November 7 of that same year, the same Kamal Hamid wrote to Arafat with
another request for "urgent assistance of USD 3,000 for each of the
following brothers, commanders and fallen, who fell in battle, and to pay
some of their debts." Some names appear on this new list who were supported
by Arafat while they were alive, including Atef Abayat. Another star on
the list is Hassan Abu Shaira, who shot to death Lt.-Col. Yehuda Edri, an
agent handler. Arafat again only interfered in the size of the sums, he
erased the numbers and wrote "to the Finance Ministry, Ramallah, pay USD
800 to each." This Abayat was wanted by Israel for a long time and Israel
conveyed requests to the PA to arrest him several times.
Arafat was quite picky in his insistence on approving all expenditures
himself. He also made sure to clarify where every shekel, dinar and dollar
went. Among the many documents, some of the daily correspondence that
Arafat received was also found. One of them is a report from MBC on Saudi
donations to the families of shahids. Arafat wrote next to this report to
check immediately with the Saudis why this money was being sent directly to
the families and did not go through the PA. This began an illuminating
correspondence between the Palestinian ambassador in Riyadh and the
kingdom's authorities. The documents show that the Saudis, politely but
firmly, did not agree to transfer the money through the PA's coffers, for
their own reasons.
The PA's budget is made up mainly of money from the customs duties that
Israel levies and passes on to the PA (and which was stopped in the course
of the fighting), from taxes that the PA levies in a very partial manner,
especially after the Intifada started, and from donations. The Arab states
give the PA monthly assistance of USD 35 million. The EU gives the PA USD
9 million a month, around ten percent of its budget.
A section on funding Fatah does not appear among the official budget
sections of the PA that is shown to the EU and to the International
Monetary Fund. The money was taken from the PA salaries bank account in
the Bank of Jordan. At least 60 such checks were seized in Ramallah, which
show how money was transferred by Barghouti to dozens of local and
sub-branches of Fatah and Tanzim in the West Bank. In a similar fashion,
funding was transferred to the branches of the Shabiba movement and to the
student councils of the movement in places like Bir Zeit.
Many documents were seized in Barghouti's office in Ramallah that deal
with transferring payments to Tanzim cells and to the El-Aksa Martyrs
Brigades. In most cases, requests for money from the field landed on Marwan
Barghouti's desk. In a few cases the heads of the branches bypassed
Barghouti and appealed directly to Arafat or other senior officials in the
security organizations, such as Tawfik Tirawi. Tirawi, for example, sent a
letter to Arafat asking for monetary assistance for the families of
assassinated men, including the commanders of the El-Aksa Martyrs Brigades
in Bethlehem, Atef Abayat and his assistant Jamal Nuora.
Time and again Barghouti comes across as a sort of mediator between the
field operatives and Arafat. He is the one who recommends to Arafat to
whom to give and how much. Thus, for example, he writes, "to honored
President Abu Amar, may God protect him:
"Please agree to pay USD 3,000 to each of the following, as they are
wanted by the occupation forces and are eligible for aid"… this letter is
accompanied by a list of 20 activists.
An interesting letter was sent to "our warrior brother Abu el-Kassam
(Marwan Barghouti), may God preserve him" from Khaled Abed el-Aziz Mohammed
Sif, a member of the Fatah council in Nablus. "It is my wish to inform
you," he writes to Barghouti, "that I and a group of my colleagues who are
wanted are unable to find anyone to give us help at these difficult
economic times. I wish to tell you that we have been active for over five
months in committing quality actions as part of the struggle, but we face
severe problems in a lack of ammunition, and have none at this stage… we
are wanted by the occupation forces. This complicates matters and, at this
point, we cannot even pay rent. I am the only one who receives a sum of
NIS 500 a month." Sif adds at the end of the letter his phone number and
notes, "the bearer of the letter is the mother of one of the members of our
group." At the head of the page Barghouti wrote to one of his aides
"follow up on this and carry it out."
Arafat's and Barghouti's close monitoring of every penny from the PA
budget did not prevent, to use an understatement, corruption. As
previously reported, the documents that the IDF seized corroborated
evidence of the extensive corruption of senior PA officials, who built for
themselves mansions at the expense of the public, as well as corruption
inside the various organizations, including those that generally are
considered to be ideological and clean, such as Islamic Jihad. Thus, for
example, the documents show that among senior Islamic Jihad officials in
the Jenin area a bitter dispute broke out over the disappearance of a huge
sum of money relative to the organization, USD 127,000, which was passed by
the leader, Ramadan Shalah, to support the families of those killed and
The Revolving Door
One interesting document that was found last week and which is printed
here for the first time demonstrates unequivocally the practice of the
phenomenon Israel dubs the "revolving door policy." This refers to the
PA's method of releasing from jail or granting "holiday furloughs" to many
dozens of activists from the military arms of Hamas and Islamic Jihad,
after most of them were never put on trial or questioned.
The document includes a recommendation to Brig. Gen. Haj Ismail, one of
Arafat's close associates, to release 27 Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists
arrested by the PA. Senior Palestinian officers write: "To the honored
brother Brig. Gen. Haj Ismail Jabar, may God protect him, commander of the
General Security Service in the West Bank," and asks: "Please approve the
release of the 27 detainees arrested since no proof was found in the course
of their interrogation of involvement in illegal activities."
The GSS claims that this recommendation was adopted and the activists on
the list indeed were released. IDF Intelligence Research claims that the
entire list is of Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists, including some who
were involved in suicide bombings, manufacturing bombs, Kassam rockets and
planting bombs. Three of them were caught by the IDF in Operation
Defensive Shield and at least one was killed. This was Ashraf Hamza Hassan
Draghama of Tubas, who was involved after his release in planning suicide
bombings and shooting attacks in Hamam el-Malih in the northern Jordan
Valley. One IDF officer was killed and two soldiers were injured in that
This document is from February 2, 2002, when there was a relative
escalation in terror attacks. At the time the Islamic opposition was
increasing its pressure to release more and more of its activists from PA
jails. That very same day, in the course of a meeting of the PLO Central
Committee, representatives of the Palestinian opposition at the meeting
called to release all those imprisoned in PA jails. In total, in the
period before Operation Defensive Shield, the PA arrested 144 people. In
other words, this document led to the release of 20% of them.
Israel says that the term "no proof of their involvement in illegal
activities was found in the course of their interrogation" is a legal
manipulation, since terror attacks outside the PA are not against PA law.
Thus, formally, these activists did not commit any offense. A reading of
the original in Arabic makes it clear that there is no question about the
membership of these 27 in Hamas or Islamic Jihad, two organizations
publicly involved in terror against Israel.
Cross-checking the list with the data banks of Israeli intelligence also
shows at once that these are well-known names. Thus, for example, Nimr
Ibrahim Darawza of Nablus, whom the GSS says is a senior assistant to Hamas
in Samaria. In October 2001 Darawza headed a cell that planned to send a
suicide bomber to the Sharon area. This was prevented at the last moment.
Abbas Fawaz Ali Naaura, a Hamas activist from el-Bireh, is also on the
list, who is suspected of belonging to a cell in Ramallah that manufactured
bombs and Kassam rockets. He was arrested in Operation Defensive Shield.
He is an American citizen and before his affiliation with Hamas was clear,
the American consulate in East Jerusalem asked the PA to release him.
The Hornets Ask for Cash
The documents that the IDF seized prove painfully how close the ties
were between the legitimate Palestinian security organizations and Hamas
and Islamic Jihad, and how naive often was the conception that made a
distinction between the "good" organizations and the "bad" ones. The
Palestinian security organizations consistently refrained from stopping
terror attacks in time, including suicide bombings. At best, they looked
the other way from the actions of the Islamic terror organizations and at
less than best went so far as to warn the activists of planned Israeli
raids and arrests.
Thus, for example, a document was seized in the mukataa belonging to
Palestinian General Intelligence, with a list of "the people that must be
warned when there are planes in the air." The list includes the names of
all the senior Tanzim and Hamas activists whom Israeli intelligence alleges
were involved in terror attacks against Israel.
A document from the headquarters of the Preventive Security Service in
Ramallah notes that General Intelligence was involved in the suicide
bombing that was carried out by Wafa Idris on Jaffa Street in Jerusalem,
the first by a woman, in which one person was killed and 131 injured. The
document notes that immediately after the attack, Tawfik Tirawi, the
commander of the Preventive Security Service, tried to prevent it coming to
light that Idris was behind the attack, and tried to persuade her brother,
in exchange for benefits, to say that she had moved to Jordan.
The cooperation between the terror organizations and the security
organizations in Jenin stands is particularly salient. The documents show
that there was a joint umbrella organization for all these organization
under the title "the joint forces" to protect it from the IDF. One
document mentions even a joint operations room. Another document notes
that the deputy director of the Preventive Security Service in the city
provided Hamas and Islamic Jihad with weapons, which came from "the weapons
storeroom in northern Palestine, the contents of which were stolen"
(referring to the storeroom in Kibbutz Manara).
An internal Fatah report from September 9, 2001, addressed to Barghouti,
says: "of all the districts, Jenin is the district with the best and with a
tremendous number of fighters who belong to Fatah and to all the national
and Islamic groups. The Jenin refugee camp is considered, rightfully so,
as the center and where the headquarters of the Jenin district are
concentrated, a hornets nest, as the other side calls it. The Jenin
refugee camp has an exceptional number of fighters and people who initiate
national actions. Nothing can defeat them, and nothing scares them. They
are willing to make any sacrifice. It is not strange that Jenin is known
as the capital of suicide bombers."
Another Fatah document writes that Jenin is "a Fatah fortress," and that
the El-Aksa Martyrs Brigades members in the camp are "the ones who
consolidated the Fatah presence and its ability to act." A letter from the
El-Aksa Martyrs Brigades to "brother Marwan Barghouti" from May 2001 notes
that there are 63 fighters of the El-Aksa Martyrs Brigades in the Jenin
district divided into four units. Their activity, it says, "focuses on
ongoing clashes using machine guns, grenades, explosives and mortar shells.
Their activities focus on the bypass road that the settlers use."
The letter goes on to list the "achievements of clashes in the Jenin
district" and ends with a request and a threat: "so far we have not
received a budget for all these actions, which entailed great expenses,
whether in ammunition, weapons and fuel or whether in giving assistance to
wanted men, all of whom have to provide for their families. We hope that
you will help us all you can, particularly in light of the fact that the
El-Aksa Martyrs Brigades has accumulated debts approaching USD 10,000. We
must note that elements that oppose us have undertaken various steps, which
wish to invest this money. We all hope that just as we promised loyalty to
you in the past, so you will always help us and provide us with the budget
for this activity, so that we can continue the resistance and develop it
[Beneath are two inserts that appeared in the context of the main article:]
Who was Influenced by What
The Israeli intelligence community conducted a study to find out just
what impact the seized documents had on world public opinion, and which of
the documents tilted the scales. The study is still in its preliminary
stages, but the interim conclusions that have been drawn indicate that
Yasser Arafat's personal involvement had the most impact [on world public
opinion]. In that sense, Israel needs to thank Allah that the Palestinians
did not use electronic signatures (which immediately would have been
suspected as an Israeli forgery), and that the documents indicate that the
rais insisted on personally authorizing every security expenditure over 250
Among the array of documents bearing Arafat's signature, one needs to be
mentioned in particular. It was a letter that was sent to Arafat by Hussein
A-Sheikh, a leading Fatah official in the West Bank, in which he requested
that Abu Amar authorize 2,550 dollars in support to each one of the
"following brothers." At the head of the list submitted by A-Sheikh was
Raed Karmi, the commander of Tanzim in Tulkarm, and Ziyad Mohammed Daas, a
high-ranking commander in Tanzim who was behind the terror attack at the
Hadera bat mitzva party. Arafat instructed that each of them was to receive
600 dollars. Arafat authorized with his own hand a request that was signed
personally by Raed Karmi for urgent financial assistance for a list of
Fatah activists who were involved in deadly terror attacks.
The presentation of these documents to the Americans and the Europeans,
who subsequently forwarded them to Arab leaders, led to a real change. It
was not that Israel's image was improved in any meaningful way, but
Arafat's name was blackened for eternity. Israeli officials are
particularly proud of the impact these documents had on the leaders of
Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia who, while openly saying nothing, spoke very
bluntly in their talks with US officials and in private conversations with
IDF Intelligence Branch officials said that the international media was
not persuaded immediately, but only gradually so, and as a result of the
sheer amount of material. The IDF Intelligence Branch officials who were
responsible for the presentation of the material needed to work hard to
rehabilitate their credibility. The media catastrophe surrounding the
Karine A affair, in which every possible mistake was made, and the pompous
tone assumed in Danny Naveh's report caused the journalists to suspect at
first the authenticity of the documents.
The Americans were persuaded far more easily than the Europeans. The
American intelligence officers, politicians and media all were prepared to
see the overall context and to treat the issue like a legal case that was
built on pieces of evidence. The IDF Intelligence Branch describes the
European approach as being far more emotional, if not superficial. Some of
the media in Europe, for instance, were willing to consider Arafat's
payments to Raed Karmi as assistance to terrorism. Others argued that the
documents were irrelevant.
Ultimately, in addition to the documents that bear Arafat's signature,
the thing that convinced Bush were Arafat's statements in a variety of
forums about the need to "release the anger," and particularly the
documents that Israel seized in May and June (which have not been released
for publication yet), which clearly indicate that even after Operation
Defensive Shield and in the wake of the countless warnings that he
received, the PA leader did not change his ways.
Some of the documents that were released to the public in the past
number of months are on public display at the Information Center for
Intelligence and Terrorism, at the Intelligence Heritage Center, which is
the official memorial site for the fallen intelligence operatives in Glilot
that is directed by Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Amit. The intention is to
establish a library with a computerized index of the Arafat documents, once
they have been sifted through. A number of unique collections of seized
documents are open to the public at the center.
What the Europeans Knew
The documents and raids demonstrated that quite a few European officials
knew in real time what the Palestinians were doing. For example, the head
of the German liaison office to the Palestinian Authority, Andreas
Reinicke, approached Jibril Rajoub on March 5, 2002 and told him that armed
Palestinian men had seized control of the Talithakumi school in Beit Jala,
which is funded by the Protestant Church in Berlin. The school is situated
on a ridge, and Palestinian gunmen fired from its surroundings on Israeli
vehicles on the tunnel road. Reinike was afraid of an Israeli military
response and asked Rajoub to help remove the gunmen. "The school is known
and enjoys a high degree of respectability in Germany," he wrote to Rajoub.
"You cannot imagine what a ruckus would be raised… if it were to become
known that the school grounds served as a battlefield."
In the course of Operation Defensive Shield the IDF also entered the
UNRWA office in the Jenin refugee camp. IDF Intelligence Branch officials
who were present at the time of the raid discovered that the walls of the
European director's office were plastered with pictures of shahids from
suicide terror attacks.
This article appeared in the weekend magazine of
Yediot Aharonot, July 11-12, 2002
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