Israel Resource Review 16th March, 2009


Israel Returns Weapons To Fatah:
David Bedein

On March 12, the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot confirmed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have issued operational orders, as their tenures draw to a close, for the Israeli army to return weapons to Palestinian terrorists belonging to the Fatah-affiliated al-Aqsa Brigades terror organization.

The Israeli army had confiscated weapons from the Fatah-affiliated terror organization during Operation Defensive Shield in April 2002.

A month earlier, the United States government defined the group as an official Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). That categorization has never changed, even though United States military currently advises Fatah, which also runs the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Israeli Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Members were contacted to discover their responses to the information the Israeli government intends to return weapons to the terrorists.

One Knesset member of that security committee, Professor Aryeh Eldad, of the Israel National Union Party, responded to the query with a demand for the immediate convening of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee to discuss the matter. Mr. Eldad's demand will be discussed today.

However, it may already be too late.

Last night, the Palestinian Ma'an news agency confirmed that the Israeli army returned 300 confiscated weapons to the Palestinian Authority yesterday morning, according to the head of the PA's Department of Civil Affairs.

The official, Husein ash-Sheikh, told Ma'an that, during a visit to the former Beit Eba military checkpoint yesterday, Israel had returned 300 pieces of weaponry to the PA's security services.

Thousands of PA weapons were confiscated by Israel during an operation in 2002, he said.

Meanwhile, he noted that the PA is working to "totally remove the Huwwara checkpoint," which is located south of Nablus.

"Removing Beit Eba checkpoint, west of Nablus, was a good move but insufficient as around 50 checkpoints surround the entrances of various districts," Mr. ash-Sheikh said.

David Bedein can be reached at

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