Israel Resource Review 4th October, 2006


UNIFIL Spokesman Alexander Ivanko: Our Role is not to Disarm
Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director, IMRA,

IMRA interviewed UNIFIL Spokesman Alexander Ivanko, in English, on 4 October.

IMRA: I had some questions about the UNIFIL press statement (see full text below).

" In situations where the LAF are not in a position to do so, UNIFIL will do everything necessary to fulfill its mandate"

Now this whole story about "taking action" - does this relate only during the movement of unauthorized weapons?

Ivanko: I am not going to second judge the commanders on the ground. They are the ones that have to make a decision with the concrete situation that they are dealing with.

IMRA: But let's put it a different way. This talks about having "information" about the "movement of unauthorized weapons".

Ivanko: yes.

IMRA: The weapons have moved. Now you knew that there was a movement of "unauthorized weapons". Can you act after the movement has been completed?

Ivanko: As our statement makes it very clear. It is our first priority to inform the Lebanese Army about it. About whatever we think is the movement of unauthorized materials.

IMRA: Well, it says ", in situations where the LAF are not in a position to do so."

Ivanko: Well then as I said then we have all the necessary means to take action.

IMRA: Now the "LAD are not in a position" in some circumstances because the Lebanese Government hasn't given it instructions to disarm the Hezbollah.

Ivanko: We are not talking about disarmament. We are talking about movement of unauthorized weapon and material.

IMRA: That's what I am confused about. There are weapons - they are moving. Now they have completed the movement. Once they have completed the movement they are no longer relevant?

Ivanko: No. They are as long as there is a cache of weapons that we come across - it doesn't matter if it is moving or it is static.

IMRA: So if there is a cache of weapons that you come across and the LAF isn't in a position to act because they don't have instruction to act against them - then UNIFIL would pick up the weapons?

Ivanko: UNIFIL has the rules that allow it to act but in every case it is a decision of the commander in the concrete situation.

IMRA: By the way, the area of UNIFIL operations includes the refugee camps?

Ivanko: The area includes the south of the Litani River up to the Blue Line.

IMRA: There isn't an exception then for the refugee camps?

Ivanko: I am not aware of an exception of the rules of operation to the south of the Litani.

IMRA: I am just trying to make sure I understand. Resolution 1701 does include UNIFIL having a role in disarming.

Ivanko: When you go to 1701 it pretty clearly says that this is a priority for the Lebanese. The Secretary-General has said on several occasions that this is something that is expected of the Lebanese Army and in his view this should be done through a political process.

IMRA: So, if you are aware that there is a cache of weapons someplace then at what stage would UNIFIL act on that?

Ivanko: Well I am not going to answer that question because it is a hypothetical question. And we are not going to be pinned down at to what in an exact situation what action we would take because then everyone would know exactly what our steps are. I am not going to get pinned down on this. Is there any military commander who is going to tell you exactly what he is going to do?

IMRA: Well a military commander could say that if he is aware of a cache of weapons.

Ivanko: We may take action - we may use "all necessary means". That's a long list - it includes negotiations.

IMRA: I will just end with this. The concept of the "LAF are not in a position to do so" - is this only in terms of technical capability or can it extend to that they don't have orders to do something.

Ivanko: It depends, again, on the commander on the ground. His assessment of the situation.

IMRA: So if the LAF is not in a position to do so because of instructions above them it is conceivable that UNIFIL would act?

Ivanko: Again - you are giving me a hypothetical situation. In every concrete situation the commander on the ground assesses what is the reason etc. etc. If he wishes to consult he then consults with the force commander and then the decision is made on the ground how UNIFIL will act.

IMRA: Under the terms of the ceasefire the Israelis are prohibited from carrying out over flights of drones and other observation equipment?

Ivanko: Any over flights we monitor and report to the headquarters in New York.

IMRA: Is there some problem for UNIFIL to use information that was provided by Israel that was derived from this activity that you would consider a violation?

Ivanko: Anything involving the use of intelligence information is not something we will discuss. Period.

IMRA: I understand. Thank you sir.

Ivanko: No problem. Take care



UNIFIL is steadily enhancing its operational capabilities in order to fulfill its responsibilities under Security Council resolution 1701 (2006).

More than 3,000 additional troops, for a current total of around 5,200, plus an Interim Maritime Task Force, have been deployed so far. UNIFIL personnel are patrolling the area of operations, monitoring the cessation of the hostilities, and assisting the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), which have already deployed five brigades in the south. Yesterday, UNIFIL confirmed the withdrawal of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to south of the Blue Line, except in the area around Ghajar, and ensured a seamless and smooth takeover by the LAF.

Should the situation present any risk of resumption of hostile activities, UNIFIL rules of engagement allow UN forces to respond as required. UNIFIL commanders have sufficient authority to act forcefully when confronted with hostile activity of any kind. UNIFIL has set up temporary checkpoints at key locations within its area of operations. Permanent checkpoints are being established by the LAF to stop and search passing vehicles. In case specific information is available regarding movement of unauthorized weapons or equipment, the LAF will take required action. However, in situations where the LAF are not in a position to do so, UNIFIL will do everything necessary to fulfill its mandate in accordance with Security Council resolution 1701.

In implementing their mandate, all UNIFIL personnel may exercise the inherent right of self-defense. In addition, the use of force beyond self-defense may be applied to ensure that UNIFIL's area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities; to resist attempts by forceful means to prevent UNIFIL from discharging its duties under the mandate of the Security Council; to protect UN personnel, facilities, installations and equipment; to ensure the security and freedom of movement of UN personnel and humanitarian workers; and to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence in its areas of deployment, within its capabilities.

For further information, Please contact Alexander Ivanko, UNIFIL Spokesman, at (+961) 70 910064.

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Sec'y Rice Sanctions Terror Group which the State Department Designates as a Terror Organization

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has arrived in Israel and scheduled meetings with the Fatah, which operates the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade, designated by the US State Dep't as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) on March 27, 2002, and which remains on the official list of terrorist organizations on the US government's terror "watch list".

Our agency asked an American government official as to how whether the US government holds Machmud Abbas, the head of the Fatah, accountable for an organization that he heads which the US Government as a terrorist organization defines.

The American government official responded, "The US Government views Abbas as the head of the Fatah, and the Fatah as separate and distinct from the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade".

It would seem that this American government official is not familiar with the US State Department web site. Only ten months ago, the US State Dep't annual report on terror in which it linked the Fatah and Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades:, where the Aksa Brigades is openly linked by the US State Department to the Fatah

The relevant sections of the annual report speak for themselves:

p. 126

"Middle East and North Africa Overview:

Terrorist activities in the Middle East and North Africa continued to be a primary concern in the global war on terror. Active extremist groups in this region includes: al-Qaida, the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hizballah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the al-Aqsa Martyrs ' Brigades (Fatah's militant wing), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), Ansar al-Islam and its offshoot Ansar al-Sunna, and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's organization, Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn, a.k.a. al-Qaida of the Jihad Organization in the Land of Two Rivers (a.k.a. al-Qaida in Iraq)."

p. 132

"Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.

Palestinian terrorist groups conducted a significant number of attacks in Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip even after a "period of calm" was agreed in February. All of these groups used a variety of terrorist tactics, including suicide bombs, rocket attacks, pipe bombs, mortar attacks, roadside bombings and ambushes, and shooting at Israeli homes and military and civilian vehicles. The number of victims killed in Israel in terrorist attacks was less than 50, down from the almost 100 individuals killed in 2004. Israeli security forces successfully thwarted other planned attacks. Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the Fatah-linked al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AAMB), HAMAS, and the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) were responsible for most of these attacks.


The Fatah-Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade connection is not new.

Yael Shahar, a researcher at the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism wrote back in March 2002 that among the documents seized in a raid on the Fatah chief Arafat's headquarters were invoices the Al-Aqsa Martyrs asking for reimbursement for, among other things, explosives used in bombings in Israeli cities.

Another document found was addressed to Brig. Gen. Fouad Shoubaki, the Palestinian Authority's chief financial officer for military operations, and contained numerous handwritten notes and calculations, apparently added by Shoubaki's staff.

That document was the first direct proof that the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades are not a "rogue militia" as Arafat had claimed earlier. Instead, its members were found to be on the Palestinian Authority's payroll, and that its activities are financed out of Palestinian Authority coffers, and that its attacks are carried out with the knowledge and backing of Yasser Arafat's inner Fatah circle.

Another invoice discovered in Arafat's headquarters was dispatched by Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades to Shoubaki's office, located in the Palestinian Authority's headquarters in Ramallah, dated 16 September 2001 outlining expenses through September 6 and asks Shoubaki's office for money to build additional bombs, and to finance propaganda posters promoting suicide bombers.

These internal documents showed that Shoubaki was also responsible for financing the activity of the al-Aksa Brigades in the Bethlehem region, transferring monthly salaries to the organization's activists in the area. In addition, he was involved in purchasing a cache of weapons stolen owards the end of the year 2000 from an IDF base in the area. These weapons were later used to carry out attacks against Israeli civilians in the area of Jerusalem.

Shoubaki had visited Baghdad in August 2001 in order to coordinate positions with the Iraqi government, and in May 2001 he was present at a meeting in Moscow during which the draft for joint activities between Iran and the PA was agreed upon.

In addition, documents that Israel seized from Orient House, the PA's East Jerusalem headquarters, show that the PA had transferred funds to Fatah, the Tanzim, and its affiliated fighters.

Example: July 9, 2002 letter, signed by Arafat, empowered Kamil Hmeid -- a Fatah leader in Bethlehem -- to disburse payments to twenty-four Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades members, including Atef Abayat, an Al-Aksa commander in Bethlehem.

Colonel Miri Eisin, then a senior Israeli intelligence officer and now a senior advisor to Prime Minister Olmert who was the ranking officer who presented the document to the media at the time, pointed out that in the time since the letter was sent, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade had carried out eight suicide bombings in Israel. In addition, the group had by then carried out about 300 attacks in which Israeli civilians were killed or wounded, including roadside ambushes, drive by shootings, and car bombings. "You could probably call this a terror invoice. How much does terrorism cost?", Eisin asked reporters.

Even the Council on Foreign Relations, the academic group most identified as an advocate of negotiations with the PLO, revealed in 2002 that "The Al Aksa brigades are affiliated with Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat's al-Fatah faction. While the group initially vowed to target only Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in early 2002 it began a spree of terrorist attacks against civilians in Israeli cities. In March 2002, after a deadly al-Aqsa Brigades suicide bombing in Jerusalem, the State Department added the group to the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations in early 2002, the al-Aqsa Brigades' attacks killed more Israelis than those of Hamas".


This week, a Fatah member and terror group leader told the World Net Daily news service in Jeruaalem that the Fatah party does not recognize Israel and that any final accord that doesn't include flooding the Jewish state with millions of Palestinians will not be supported by the Fatah party and will lead to Palestinian civil war.

"The base of our Fatah movement keeps dreaming of Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jaffa and Acco. There is no change in our position. Abbas recognizes Israel because of pressure that the Zionists and the Americans are exercising on him. We understand this is part of his obligations and political calculations", said Abu Ahmed, Fatah member and leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the northern Gaza Strip.

Abu Ahmed went on to day that "there is an opportunistic class at the head of the Fatah leadership that for personal and political interests says it accepts the existence of Israel. There is no change in our official position. Fatah as a movement never recognized Israel. It is the PLO who did so for the reasons I mentioned."

Abu Ahmed explained, on the record, that the Al Aqsa Brigades is "one and the same" with the Fatah party.

"We are members of Fatah and there are normal organic relations between us and the Fatah. We are in the Al Aqsa Brigades because we are Fatah members. We participate in all political decisions making of the Fatah movement."

Abu Ahmed told WND that Brigades members consider Abbas their legitimate leader and answer ultimately to the PA President.

"Of course we are loyal to Abbas. He is our elected leader. We would of course prefer if his policy toward Israel was different but we understand his obligations and calculations, and we do not consider ourselves limited by these calculations," Abu Ahmed said.

Abu Ahmed explained the difference between Hamas and Fatah is that the Fatah party "is ready to discuss a political arrangement for the Jews." And added that any arrangement must include the "right of return" of millions of Palestinians to Israel.


The Arabic language Palestinian Authority media runs frequent news stories that feature the Fatah-Al Aksa Brigade link.

Here are some examples:

On February 5th, 2005, the official website of the Al Aksa Brigades featured a letter from the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades to the Fatah Revolutionary Council which quotes the late Yassir Arafat who officially declared the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade to be the "military wing" of the Fatah and that the Al Aksa Brigades would continue to follow the Fatah leadership of "the brother Abu Mazen"

On August 4th, 2005, the official web site of the Fatah ran an interview with a member of the revolutionary council of the Fatah in which he was asked about the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, to which he responded that the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades remain an integral part of the Fatah, and that Fatah takes pride in the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades

on November 26th, 2005, in an "Islam on Line news" feature, a prominent Palestinian pundit noted that a victory in the forthcoming election for the Fatah will be a victory the leaders of the Al Aksa Brigades""

On January 12th, 2006, the official Palestinian Authority Fatah newspaperAl Hayat editorialized that Machmud Abbas would have to use all of the Fatah's forces in the election campaign, especially the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades From the clear documented connection between Al Aksa and the Fatah, itwould seem that Secretary Rice would be hard pressed to defend herself against an allegation that she violates American law by giving sanction to an organization which operates a terrorist organization that has been designated by her own US State Department as a terrorist organization.

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