Da Ha'aretz del 18/01/2005
Originale su http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/pages/ShArtVty.jhtml?sw=Gush+Katif&a...

Abbas orders Gaza security forces to deploy against mortars

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was due in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday to start giving orders directly to the heads of his security services there to act against militants firing rockets and mortar shells at Israeli targets.

Abbas will meet with militant leaders and will also need to untangle the personal rivalries between the heads of Fatah and the security services that so far are preventing the deployment of a PA intervention force in the areas where the armed men operate.

"I am going to Gaza with the hopes of reaching an agreement," Abbas said Tuesday before departing from the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Abbas has issued orders for Palestinian security services in Gaza to deploy in the area from which rockets and mortars are being launched at Israeli targets, with a special intervention force of 500-700 officers from the security forces to be formed for the purpose.

The new force, apparently to be headed by Abdul Razek Majada, commander of the National Security force, is supposed to be deployed in the Beit Lahia and Beit Hanun areas to prevent Qassam rocket fire at Sderot, and in the Khan Yunis area to prevent mortar fire at Gush Katif.

As of Monday night, the Israel Defense Forces had not spotted any activity by the Palestinian security forces indicating they are moving into new positions, but IDF sources admitted that Abbas has to be given some more time to see if Abbas' promises for action hold up.

"Israel expects him to take matters into his hands," said a senior source. "Meanwhile, all we've heard are words."

The army, in any case, is preparing for its own wide-scale operation into the three main areas from which Palestinian fire has been launched at Israeli targets: Khan Yunis, Jabalya, Beit Lahia and Beit Hanun. The operation will be unprecedented in size in Gaza since the outbreak of the intifada - if the Palestinians do not take action.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian rhetoric against the armed irregulars has become unprecedented. While Abbas was telling Geneva Accord activists from Israel that "it will take a few weeks, perhaps a month, to organize the ranks of the Palestinian government and the security forces, but I don't intend to sit on the porch and watch without intervening," Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia was even blunter: "Anyone taking part in military activity in Gaza will be punished," he warned.

But a Palestinian source close to Abbas also said that the Palestinians need some assurances from Israel that they will cease assassinations and incursions into Palestinian areas, with the most important element being an Israeli understanding that the assassinations of activists from all the organizations, and not only Fatah, will torpedo any Palestinian move to end the violence.

Abbas also said Israel must help him. "It should stop all military attacks against the Palestinian people, stop incursions, the assassinations and the building of the wall (separation fence), release prisoners and accept a mutual cease-fire," Abbas said.

Meanwhile, he has begun putting into motion his plan to co-opt the armed irregulars into the Palestinian security forces, ordering the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, the Fatah-affiliated group, integrated into the PA security apparatus.

Israel was not making any promises Monday, except that it would resume contact with the Palestinians only after the PA takes action against the terrorists.


IDF PREPARING FOR LARGE GAZA OPERATION

The IDF was preparing for a possible large-scale operation in the Gaza Strip if the PA continued to refrain from taking concrete steps against militants, a senior IDF officer told Haaretz.

"Israel expects Mahmoud Abbas to take the reins to his hands. In the meanwhile we've been hearing only talk," the officer said.

"We could quickly reach an operation similar to Defense Shield in the Gaza Strip," he said, referring to a large operation the IDF had carried out in the West Bank in march 2002.

"It could happen a long time before the disengagement - and independently of it. If the intolerable situation continues, where Gush Katif settlements and Sderot are being shelled daily - Israel will have to act, in an extensive way," he said.

A government source said the Palestinians had received vehement messages from the international community demanding an end to the terrorism. Government sources in any case are doubtful that Abbas will manage to deploy the PA soldiers in the areas where the mortars and Qassams are launched.

"We don't see any sign of Palestinian intention to combat the terror and cease the actions against Israel," Prime Minister Ariel Sharon - who was angry when he saw headlines Monday morning saying Israel was giving Abbas time to organize - told Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutake Machimura. "We have decided to freeze contact with them until they take action ... we decided to close the border passages because the terror groups have been targeting them."

Machimura met with Abbas before he saw Sharon, and told Sharon that Abbas had said that he also understands that he has to take action against the terrorists, and that the terror attack at Karni junction was aimed at the Abbas government.

"It may have been aimed at the Palestinians but the dead were Israelis, and we cannot agree to that," said Sharon.

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom met with the foreign ambassadors in Israel Monday, and his comments echoing Sharon prompted many of them to wonder if Israel was reasserting the "no partner" policy it had while Yasser Arafat was alive.

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