Israel Resource Review 10th October, 2003


Striking Syrian Bases of Terror:
Is Saudi Arabia Next?

David Bedein

While the people of Israel were in the midst of preparations for the solemn fast of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, this year's observance of Yom Kippur has been overshadowed by nostalgic memories of the Yom Kippur War. The Yom Kippur War occurred exactly thirty years ago, when Yom Kippur also fell on October 6th.

In the midst of the nostalgic strategic discussions from thirty years ago, Arab terrorists struck at a Haifa restaurant, while Arab terror groups based in Syria, funded by Saudi Arabia, took to the airwaves to take credit for the murder of 19 more Israeli citizens - five of whom were Israeli Arabs. In Israel, it is as if the Yom Kippur War occurred yesterday.

Debate continues to rage in the Israeli media as to whether Israel did the right thing by not abiding by the Moshe Dayan doctrine of carrying out a pre-emptive strike against enemy positions in the Arab countries, a policy that had been effect since the genesis of 1967 War. Who can forget the Israeli air strikes in 1967 that broke the Egyptian blockade of the Straits of Tiran? Or the air strikes against PLO training camps that followed the Munich Olympic massacre in 1972? Or the Israeli intelligence pursuit of Arab terrorists all over the world after the Munich attack?

This time, after a hiatus of 20 years, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) invoked the dormant Dayan doctrine, as the Israeli Air Force struck the Ain Saheb Arab terror training base, 15 kilometers northwest of Damascus in Syria, on early Sunday, less than 24 hours after the Haifa attack.

The Canada-based Middle East News Line confirmed with Western intelligence sources that the Ain Saheb base has been used by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine for training of their members.

It would seem that this is the first stage of the renewal of the dormant Dayan doctrine, which was in effect between 1967 and 1973: To hit Arab terrorists at the source of their support: in the neighboring Arab states who remain in a state of war with Israel since 1948.

Syria is the first target to be hit, and Saudi Arabia may be next in line.

Over the past two months, IDF intelligence has been declassifying and publicizing an unprecedented amount of data concerning the current conventional and non-conventional military threat now being mounted by Saudi Arabia against the Jewish state.

Last week, the Israel Ministry of Public Security disclosed sensitive documents seized at the Palestinian Authority's Orient House two years ago that showed Saudi Arabia was officially offering financial incentives for the families of Palestinian Arab suicide bombers. The Saudi government gave $25,000 to each family from special allocations distributed by the Palestinian Authority at the Orient House. Israel informed the U.S. government about the Saudi government's support for Palestinian terror groups back in April of 2002. However, at the request of the U.S. State Department, Israel had waited until now to disclose the documents to the public at large.

In terms of IDF Commander-in-Chief Moshe Ya'alon's shared data with the media, it contends that al-Qaeda tried to recruit Saudi pilots for attacks in Israel [from nearby Tabuk]. Israel has complained to the U.S. that the presence of the American-supplied jets at Tabuk contravene promises America has made over the years about how they would be deployed at the time that they were sold by the USA to the Saudis. The Saudis have now said they will deploy the planes as they wish and America has so far opted to remain silent.

Ya'alon asserted that the al-Qaeda terrorist network tried to recruit Saudi Arabian Air Force pilots to carry out a suicide attack in Israel, similar to those carried out in the United States on September 11, 2001, using either F-15 jets or civilian aircraft. Speaking at a conference at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Ya'alon said, "Leadership, whether it's in Damascus or Hezbollah and Revolutionary Guard garrisons in Lebanon who support Palestinian terror cells here . . . should be held accountable. Ya'alon also stated that since the U.S.-led war in Iraq, "We are concerned by the deployment of Saudi planes in Tabuk, and from the information on al-Qaeda, and demand that the matter be investigated."

The Saudis confirmed Yaalon's assertion. "We do not have F-16s, but rather F-15s, stationed in Tabuk, and we will keep them there because they are deployed inside our territory," Prince Khaled said to the Saudi based Arab News Agency.

The U.S. intelligence community has made similar discoveries concerning Saudi Arabia's terror involvement.

Middle East News Line, relying on CIA reports, noted that the Saudis have been named as a leading financier of the Sunni insurgency in Iraq. A CIA report on threats in Iraq has identified Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria as the leading supporters of the Sunni insurgency against the U.S. military. The report asserted that the three countries have contributed insurgents and funding to a range of groups, including al-Qaeda and Hizbullah. The report was disclosed by Kurdish sources in Iraq to the London-based Al Hayat daily. Al Hayat, owned by members of the Saudi royal family, reported in Auguest that the CIA report cites the activities of major Islamic insurgency groups in Iraq and their state sponsors. The CIA report marked the first time that Saudi Arabia was specifically identified as a supporter of the Sunni insurgency in Iraq.

It's about time that Israel took action against Syria. If Saudi Arabia continues its present course of action, military action may be necessary there next.

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UNRWA Says That It Will Slash Aid to Refugees
Jerusalem Times News Article

This article from a prominent Palestinian Arab publication is indicative of the fact that UNRWA expects to hit a funding crisis in the near future. See the postings in the October 3rd issue for more backgrounders on the subject. We thank Dr. Aaron Lerner of IMRA for calling our attention to this piece. - DB

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said it would have to significantly cut back on aid to more than half of refugees in the occupied Palestinian territory because of severe budget shortfalls.

It said it would have to slash its assistance because donors were not providing the necessary funds.

Speaking at a meeting in the Jordanian capital, Amman, UNRWA's Commissioner-General Peter Hansen said that the lack of response by donors to the emergency appeal the agency made earlier in the year will mean not meeting even half of the refugee's needs.

So far, the UN body managed to get less than half of the money it sought to get from donor countries, which is around $40 million-$31 million coming from the United States. UNRWA had appealed to the international community in June for $103 million to alleviate the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

As a result, the UN body was able to implement only 12% of its program aimed at providing shelter to thousands of homeless Palestinians whose houses have been demolished by Israel.

UNRWA will also be forced to scale back education, health and food distribution programs.

The agency's emergency job program, which targets unemployed Palestinians - now more than half of the Palestinian workforce-managed to create only 23% of the planned work days.

This article appeared in "The Jerusalem Times" (Palestinian Arab Weekly) 10 October 2003

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UN admits it misled Israel over tapes of MIA's
Shlomo Shamir and David Ratner
Correspondents, HaAretz

On the third annoiversary of the kidnap murder of the three IDF soldiers from their patrol near Har Dov, it is important to remember the role played by the UN in the process. This article from two years ago says it all. -DB

The United Nations admitted that it had - unintentionally - misled Israel concerning the reports and videotapes from the south Lebanon border scene where Hezbollah kidnapped three soldiers October 7. The abducted soldiers are Adi Avitan, 21, Benny Avraham, 20, and Omar Souad, 27.

UNIFIL deputy commander General Ganesan Athmanathan wrote a report shortly after the incident, blaming faulty internal communications and the poor judgment of some senior UN officials for the delay in informing Israel about the existence of videotapes.

Athmanathan said the quantity of blood in the vehicles in which the soldiers had been transported indicated that some occupants "may have been badly injured and could succumb to their injuries."

"He saw major blood deposits," said Joseph Connor, the under-secretary general for management, who led the probe. That contradicted statements made three weeks ago at a news conference by the UN undersecretary-general for peacekeeping, Jean-Marie Guehenno, who spoke of "some small blood stains, like the drop you shed when you scratch your finger."

The UN launched a probe into the affair last month, after images from a tape recorded by UNIFIL troops 18 hours after the kidnappings were broadcast on Israeli television. The UN had denied that any tape existed relating to the soldiers' abduction.

Now it turns out there are three tapes in UN hands - one filmed by an Indian peacekeeper on October 8; a second one recently discovered at UN headquarters that showed artillery fire and "smoke that could be from the burning Israeli jeep" but not of the kidnapping itself, according to the report; and a third tape taken from a July Lebanese television bulletin that purported to show photographs of Hezbollah during the abduction itself.

The report stated that UNIFIL personnel had not colluded with Hezbollah or taken bribes from it in connection with the abduction, as earlier unconfirmed rumors suggested.

IDF officers to NY

UN investigators said the peacekeepers had found a civilian Nissan Pathfinder and a Range Rover, with their engines still running, at the side of a road near Kfar Hamam, about six kilometers from the abduction site.

Inside the Pathfinder, they found UN license plates, a UN flag, a false antenna, overalls, berets and AK-47 rifle magazines. In the Range Rover they found a belt pouch and a radio set. There was blood in the front and the trunk. More than 50 items were removed, including a military belt and a car mat, both stained with blood.

The items were cataloged and transferred to UNIFIL headquarters in Nakura, with the exception of the seven blood-soaked items that were sent to UN headquarters in New York.

Three Israel Defense Forces officers who specialize in finding missing and captured soldiers will go to UN headquarters in New York this week. Connor said the UN will permit the Israelis to see the bloodstained items, but examination of the stains themselves will be carried out by a third party, such as the World Health Organization, which would submit its findings to Israel. The implication is that the UN will not permit Israel to examine the other items, which it has categorized as "operational."

`A mistake'

"I think the State of Israel is making a mistake in agreeing to send a team to the UN to analyze the findings, said Haim Avraham, whose son Benny is among the three abducted soldiers. "It is inconceivable for a humanitarian organization to hold onto humanitarian information for so long and then invite Israeli representatives to come to it. In my opinion, the information should be sent to Israel," Avraham said.

"We said all along that the UN has a videotape of the abduction as well as items belonging to the soldiers. Actually, this is Israel bungle - there was no firm demand to reveal things until we publicized the story of the tape. Now I am saying the UN also has the operational investigations of the Indian brigade that include important details about the boys' abduction, these investigations must be exposed."

Hezbollah stays silent

"We will not be drawn into this issue," a Hezbollah official told Reuters news agency yesterday after hearing about the UN report indicating that the soldiers may have died during the ambush.

"They want to use it and make us reveal the fate of the Israeli soldiers - whether they are alive or dead. We will not talk about this subject without something in return and while the exchange talks are still going on."

Israel's ambassador to the UN, Yehuda Lancry, welcomed the report and said that Israel was already aware that large amounts of blood had been found in the vehicles. "I can reveal from our own sources months ago we had this kind of assessment . . . But our assumption, our strong assumption, is that our soldiers are alive."

He said this was based in part on Hezbollah leaders, who last month spoke about having the captured soldiers.

Peres talks to Annan

In a phone conversation with Kofi Annan on Friday, Defense Minister Shimon Peres expressed his appreciation for the UN chief's handling of the affair and his willingness to make the information and findings available to Israel.

Peres said the captured soldiers were at the the top of Israel's agenda and it has asked for permission to let the soldiers' families view the tapes. Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer also expressed his gratitude to Annan for investigating the affair.

Heads could roll

The "bad guy" in the UN report is Joachim Hutter, director of the Asia and Middle East Department of Peacekeeping Operations, who received the October videotape in May Senior UN officials called Hutter "the father of the idee fixe" that the contents of the videotape were not important and therefore there was no need even to report it existed. The report mentions Hutter as the main liaison between UNIFIL and UN headquarters in New York and as bearing a great deal of responsibility for the embarrassing affair. Senior UN officials say Annan is likely to take action against Hutter.

This article ran in Ha'aretz 5 August 2001

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