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Monday, November 26, 2007
Qassam rockets would threated Raanana, Petach Tikvah etc. in few months if IDF halts W.Bank operations

Even worse, it would take just a few months for an effective infrastructure
to develop in those towns for producing Qassam rockets that would threaten
Israel's Sharon and Dan regions.

Israel's defense & Annapolis / A defensive dilemma
By Amos Harel Haaretz 26 November 2007
www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/927846.html

Here, in a nutshell, is the Israel Defense Forces' dilemma ahead of the
Annapolis conference: To what extent should proactive measures in the West
Bank (and to a lesser extent in the Gaza Strip) be rolled back in the coming
days?

On the one hand, an excess of arrest operations could obviously lead to an
unnecessary entanglement that would cloud the atmosphere at the conference,
whose chances for success are already limited. If civilians are killed - or
even wanted gunmen - on the day before the summit, the Palestinians will be
able to accuse Israel of sabotaging the peace process. On the other hand,
reducing the IDF's activity could let Palestinian terrorist groups achieve
their goal of disrupting the conference by a showy attack.

As of last night, the central and southern army commands had not received
any new directives. In an arrest sweep yesterday in the heart of Tul Karm, a
relatively senior wanted militant from Fatah was killed and his accomplice
badly wounded; in the Gaza Strip, three gunmen were killed when they
approached the Erez crossing. Before past conferences of this sort, orders
were issued to maintain a lower profile; to make do for a few days with
pursuing only "ticking bombs." Yesterday there was one specific alert about
a plan to dispatch a suicide bomber (that was the reason for the temporary
high alert in Jerusalem).

Several lesser alerts exist, but the main fear is of "sleeper" cells hitting
Israel without any warning. The IDF is refraining for now from deploying
more forces in the West Bank, and merely employing a relatively large number
of spot checkpoints along roads.

Syria's announcement yesterday that it will send its deputy foreign minister
to the conference ostensibly lowers the risk of an imminent terror attack.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad are still headquartered in Damascus, and it's
doubtful Syria wants to be accused of undermining the conference. But
Israeli intelligence officials say it's not that simple. General orders to
carry out an attack have already gone out, and the networks in the West Bank
now operate independently. From the moment policy is set at the headquarters
in Syria and the Gaza Strip, the cells are free to act at their own
discretion. And after many weeks of pressure to deliver something to torpedo
the conference, they might act.

Senior intelligence sources told Haaretz yesterday that despite signs of
greater security cooperation among Palestinian Authority agencies, the
Palestinians are very far from the ability to thwart attacks they displayed
in the years between the wave of bus bombings in the winter of 1996 and the
outbreak of the second intifada in September 2000. The intelligence people
are more impressed by the leadership of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam
Fayyad than that of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. But unlike Abbas, Fayyad
doesn't have any troops (or a hard-core of political loyalists) to enforce
his say.

In light of this, the Shin Bet and IDF share the same negative opinion
concerning far-reaching gestures toward the Palestinians: The PA will not be
able to impose order on West Bank towns if the IDF stops operating there
each night.

Even worse, it would take just a few months for an effective infrastructure
to develop in those towns for producing Qassam rockets that would threaten
Israel's Sharon and Dan regions.

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