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Thursday, December 12, 2002
Palestinian Preventive Security set up a weapon-manufacturing infrastructure

Palestinian Preventive Security set up a weapon-manufacturing infrastructure
IDF Spokesperson 12 December 2002

A network of weapon-manufacturing facilities in the Gaza strip run by the
PPS was exposed by documents captured during operation "Fortress Guardians"
as well as through the questioning of PPS officer Yusuf Muqdad, who was
arrested by the Israel Security Agency. Additional documents found indicated
that a "strategic project" was underway to create a Nitric Acid production
plant (used for the creation of explosives) and also to create a factory
that would produce 400-450 mortar bombs a month.

The weapon-manufacturing infrastructure was created two years ago at the
start of the current violence. Since its creation, hundreds of Mortar bombs,
explosives, guns, rockets, and other types of weapons have been manufactured
by the PPS. The manufacturing of weapons took place in PPS headquarters in
Tel-Al-Hawa as well as in workshops throughout the Gaza Strip. Senior
officers in the in the PPS, headed by Nabil Hadhad and Talal Mahasian, gave
not only their permission but also their assistance to the manufacturing of
these weapons. The weapons were handed out freely to various terrorist
organizations including the "Hamas", the "Islamic Jihad", and the "Popular
Resistance Committees" who make daily use of them against Israeli targets in
and around the Gaza strip.

These findings show how the PPS has changed from an organization whose task
it is to fight to terrorism, to an organization that is directly involved in
terrorism and that produces weapons for terrorist organizations in the Gaza
Strip. This transformation has also occurred within other Palestinian
security organizations including the "General Intelligence Service" and
"Force 17".

PPS officer involved in the production of explosives

The questioning of Yusuf Miqdad, resident of Sheikh Ajlin in Gaza and an
officer in the PPS, who was arrested Nov.14 by the Israeli Security Agency,
revealed the following:

Throughout the past two years Yusuf Miqdad and other officers in PPS worked
together to produce hundreds of mortar bombs, rockets, and guns.

These weapons were manufactured under the supervision of Talal Mahsain, a
direct subordinate to Rashid Abu Shubak. Mahsain used his offices to
manufacture weapons. He also operated a weapon-manufacturing network
throughout Gaza City.

Miqdad confessed to the PPS' role in the manufacture of weapons and
explained how the PPS Headquarters in Tel-Al-Hawa, served as the center of
weapons manufacture in the Gaza Strip. Within the PPS headquarters, weapons
including grenades, mortar bombs, explosives and anti tank rocket launchers
were being manufactured 24 hours a day. This was done with the full
authorization of the heads of the PPS - Rashid Abu Shubak, and Samir
Mashrawai. The PPS also operated a whole network of workshops to manufacture
weapons including anti tank rocket launchers, grenade launchers and mortar
bombs in the Gaza Strip.

Documents discovered during operation " Fortress Guardians"

Proof of the existence of an organized weapon-manufacturing network, as
stated by Yusuf Miqdad in his testimony, can be found in two documents
discovered in the PPS headquarters in Gaza.

Plans for the Mass-Production of Nitric Acid

A PPS document dated Oct. 21, 2002, details plans for a "strategic project"
to create large quantities of Nitric acid (about 15 tons of acid a year,
with an option to double the quantity). Nitric acid is a chemical substance
used to produce large quantities of high-quality explosives such as those
currently being produced in Palestinian Authority controlled territory. (A
translation of the document and a picture of the original document can be
seen in a separate link).

An undated PPS document contains details of the proposition to create a
workshop that would produce Mortar Bombs. The document proposes building a
workshop that could produce 400-450 mortar bombs a month. The document
appears to have been written before the outbreak of the current violence and
the factory was built the following year.

The plans for the establishment of a Mortar bomb factory were found in a
file belonging to the PPS' financial accounts. The document belongs to a
certain "A.T" (Possibly Abu Trad a nickname of Talal Mahsain, a key figure
in the arms industry of the PPS). The file mentions senior PPS leaders of
the time including Muhamad Dahlan (Abu Faddy) Rashid Abu Shubak (Abu Hatam)
and Samir Mashrawi (Abu Basal). The file contains documents dated from
'97and '98 so its likely that the plans for the creation of the workshop are
from those years, in other words, from the year before the outbreak of the
current violence.

Following are various things to be noted about the document from a technical
point of view (for a translation of the document-see appendix)

A. It is explicitly written that the factory is for the manufacture of
bombs. The document lists specific bomb components that the factory is
supposed to manufacture, including: Mercury Fulminate, detonators, and TNT
type explosives. The above components fit the description of those that make
up Mortar bombs, widely produced in workshops throughout the Gaza Strip.

B. The document details the machines needed for the factory:

1.Lathe, Milling machine
2.Electric drill, electric saw, threading machine (to create screw heads on
the tops).
3. Molds (probably casting molds)

C. The machines listed imply that the objective of this factory is to make
mortar bombs. The molds are a strong indication of this fact, as they are
used to create the body of the bomb and the fuse for the mortar bomb.

D. The rest of the machines are standard machines. The lathe is used to
grind the body so that the fuse can be inserted and also to grind the fuse
itself. It is also used to make holes in the tail fins.

E. An analysis of the technical details implies that it would be a small
workshop (an area of about 100 square Meters.) It would include the standard
number of metal working tools as well as a casting oven. The factory is
supposed to generate 400-500 mortar bombs a month, therefore it would
produce approximately two dozen (20-30) mortar bombs a day. This puts the
factory's production level at approximately 6,000 mortar bombs a year. Other
mortar bomb manufacturing factories in PA controlled territory have similar
production levels.

F. The document recommends that the factory be built in a place that "would
not arouse suspicion" indicating that the Palestinians wish to hide the fact
that they are producing such weapons.
This secrecy is re-enforced by the fact that the Palestinians had wanted to
clear the area, and hide all signs of the weapons.
The document about the manufacture of Nitric acid also emphasizes the desire
to prevent foreigners from finding out about the plant.

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