Lebanon War Is Relocating to Gaza
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report
Israel’s Intelligence Chiefs Warn Lebanon War Is Relocating to Gaza
Israel’s intelligence chiefs have formed a new lobby to put their warnings in the public domain when they see the Olmert government failing to properly address grave security threats to the country.
The first to speak out was the Shin Bet director, Yuval Diskin.
He represented the heads of AMAN-military intelligence and the Mosad when he revealed to the Knesset foreign affairs and security committee Tuesday, Aug. 29, that Palestinian terrorists, notably Hamas, were employing Hizballah’s Lebanon tactics and building a Katyusha deployment, bunker network and anti-tank missile arsenal in the Gaza Strip. The northern West Bank, he said, had been taken over by Hizballah agents and radical Jihad Islami terrorists since its evacuation by Israel at the same time as the Gaza Strip last summer.
This was the Shin Bet director’s first appearance as spokesman of the new intelligence grouping.
It is made up of the heads of the three intelligence services, Diskin, AMAN’s Maj.-Gen Amos Yadlin and Meir Dagan, head of the Mossad, as well as the counter-terror departments of these services and of the IDF Southern Command.
In the wake of the Lebanon war, these security chiefs have resolved to stand guard over Israel’s national security interests against any strategic misjudgments of prime minister Ehud Olmert, defense minister Amir Peretz and chief of staff Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz.
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the heads of the lobby are convinced that the Palestinian menace to Israel is as a great as Hizballah’s in Lebanon and becoming more acute.
They are campaigning for the Israeli army to reoccupy the Gaza-Egyptian border strip known as the Philadelphi route and propose a security zone one kilometer wide to run from Kerem Shalom to the Mediterranean and cut the Gaza Strip off from Sinai.
Since Israeli troops departed the Philadelphi border enclave last summer – with the rest of the Gaza Strip - weapons smuggling and terrorist traffic between Egypt and Gaza has been flourishing.
Diskin’s portrayal of Sinai as a paradise for international weapons traffickers and a strategic threat to Israel was timed to caution Olmert against further concessions on Lebanon to the visiting UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, in consideration of the strong Hizballah-Palestinian interchanges and reciprocity.
DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources reveal: Israel’s security chiefs have learned of a decision by Hizballah to keep its head down in S. Lebanon for the time being, while secretly opening two new anti-Israel fronts in the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank. This transposition of Hizballah’s war against Israel to the Palestinian arena has begun to materialize.
Three times as many Hizballah officers are traveling to the Gaza Strip by sea as before the war and deliveries of weapons systems have doubled, with Iranian support. Very large quantities of Katyusha rockets and anti-tank missiles are pouring into the Gaza Strip together with hundreds of RPG-29 rocket-propelled grenades and Grad rockets.
Intelligence leaders are warning the prime minister that if this influx is not scotched forthwith, southern Israel will find itself face to face with a second Hizballah front ready to go active in the second half of October.
The Hizballah master plan consists of three parts:
1. Its fighting units with the help of the Lebanese army (40% of which are Shiites) are pretending to remove themselves with their weapons from South Lebanon. Lebanese prime minister Fouad Siniora happily announced Tuesday that Hizballah had enabled the national army to intercept an arms consignment from Syria in the Lebanese Beqaa Valley. In Tyre, Hizballah fighters surrendered their weapons to Lebanese troops.
Nasrallah will allow a deceptive calm to reign as UN forces move into position, to satisfy them that Security Council resolution 1701 is being upheld, including the institution of an arms-free and militia-free zone in the south. It will last until Hizballah and its Tehran masters are ready for the next round.
2. This calm will contrast meanwhile with the opening of a Hizballah-Hamas front on Israel’s southwest border to replicate the Hizballah rocket offensive against northern Israel which was halted by the UN-brokered ceasefire two weeks ago. Israel’s Negev communities will be targeted instead of Galilee. But Israel’s hands for retaliating against Hizballah will be tied by the presence of the international force in Lebanon.
3. Olmert is sternly warned by Israel’s security chiefs on no account to buy the security arrangements he and his predecessors accepted for Israel’s southern border last year. Neither the Egyptian police contingents nor the European border inspectors have honored agreements signed at the time and caught a single terrorist or stopped a single weapons delivery smuggled in from Sinai to Gaza.
Diskin and Co. see the same pattern taking shape in south Lebanon.
He stressed to the lawmakers in Jerusalem that he felt bound to lay all this intelligence data before them in detail so that the intelligence community would not be blamed after the fact with failing to warn the country of the hazards in store, as it was after the Lebanon war.