A critical continuation of my report on Lebanon, from a MEMRI special dispatch released yesterday: Al Hayat in London has just run an interview with Shihab Al-Qaddour, who is second in command of Fatah al-Islam. Al-Qaddour declared Al-Fatah ready to do battle with the Lebanese army and to sustain itself for two years.
Explaining that his organization comprises Palestinian activists from various countries, with rich battle experience [e.g., in Iraq], he said: "The Fatah Al-Islam organization is Palestinian, and includes 600 to 700 activists in all the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, not only in the Nahr Al-Bared refuge camp. All the activists are on the highest battle alert….
"Fatah Al-Islam has bases and sleeper cells in all the Palestinian refugee camps in the various regions of Lebanon, and they…await only a sign from us."
He said that he wasn’t worried about Palestinian residents of the Nahr Al-Bared refugee camp rebelling against Fatah Al-Islam: "Many of the members of the Palestinian factions that oppose us politically deviated from their leaders’ orders, stood with us, and identified with us when the camp was recently bombed."
He denied that his organization is affiliated with Al-Qaida and said, "Our organization is an Islamic project aimed at liberating Palestine and Jerusalem." They did have connections with Hezbollah, he said, and bore no enmity to the Shiites in Lebanon.
Meanwhile, whether Al-Qaida has official connections with Fatah Al-Islam or not, it is, according to YNet, showing support for the organization. An A-Qaida mouthpiece on the Internet has released a message:
"Sons of Islam, o sons of the nation of Allah and Jihad , our brothers in the Nahr el-Bared camp in Lebanon are being subjected to the flagrant aggression of the army working for treason and apostasy, the Lebanese Army.
"(This) is a war on Islam… It is a war planned to eliminate those who think about, and act to eliminate the State of the Children of Zion. Sons of the nation Muhammad, peace be upon him, help… your brothers in Islam. They are fighting for the sake of God… They wanted a confrontation with the Zionist aggressors, and it is the duty of every Muslim to help these boys, this is one of the most important duties today."
Interesting… Fatah Al-Islam is claiming to want to liberate Palestine, but is doing battle against Muslims in Lebanon. The threat is that they can last for two years there and blow up Beirut. To what end?
This is both evil and crazy at the same time . Is the world waking up?
Both the US and Arab nations are providing military supplies to the Lebanese army.
We are stepping up our strikes in Gaza. Yesterday the Israeli Air Force hit 11 Hamas sites, killing seven (terrorists) and wounding 30.
But the Kassams keep coming. Today Oshri Oz was killed when a Kassam hit his car. He wasn’t even from Sderot, but was there on business. He leaves a three-year old and a wife six months pregnant; she collapsed when receiving the news.
Two other Kassams hit Sderot today, one other person was lightly injured and damage was done to a new community center.
In a television interview yesterday, former chief of staff , Lt.-Gen. Moshe (Boogie) Ya’alon declared that we had no choice but to do an extensive military operation in Gaza.
"It means we have to get to the infrastructure of terror , to the terrorists and camps, and strike there. One has to be blind not to see the absolute necessity in entering Gaza."
Ya’alon also said he was opposed to evacuation of Sderot as this would be interpreted as a victory for terrorism.
He called a "two-state solution" a misguided concept. Boogie’s my kind of man.
The point about evacuation of Sderot being interpreted as a victory for terrorism should not be taken lightly. It is this that is most troublesome about the tent city erected by Gaydamak, where some 700 have gone, the vacations elsewhere provided by the gov’t and Gaydamak, which some thousands have taken advantage of, and all the rest.
Said Sderot’s mayor Eli Moyal today , "if the government wants to strengthen the city, the way to do so is to fill it and not empty it….the fall of Sderot would be the fall of the entire Zionist enterprise."
One-thousand residents have now returned from vacations and the government has promised to build 200 fortified rooms each month, until the entire population has protection.
Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin says Hamas is preparing for a ground invasion by booby-trapping tunnels, putting snipers in place, and more. None of this is unexpected.
He reports that Hamas is also shooting more from highly populated areas and less from orchards — to provoke increased civilian casualties as we respond. In spite of this, we are keeping collateral damage low.
Diskin further says that Hamas has the capacity to hit Ashkelon, but is refraining from doing so yet as this would further escalate matters.
Meanwhile Public Security Minister Avi Dichter says the response to the Kassams is still not strong enough, and that Israel must create a more serious deterrent.
Two Israeli security guards on patrol at the edge of Jerusalem were fired upon and wounded yesterday, one seriously. They returned fire and killed their assailants, who had Jerusalem IDs. Fatah’s Al Aksa Brigades has claimed credit for the attack.
Hamas has threatened that if we harm their senior leaders , Shalit will not be released. The response coming from an Israeli official was appropriate: "Israel will pursue the return of Gilad Shalit as if there are not rocket attacks, and pursue terrorists as if there was no Gilad Shalit." We certainly cannot stop defending our nation because of such threats.
Fatah and Hamas have been more or less honoring a truce between them for the last week. Tensions are still high however and Fatah officials, going to Cairo to discuss the situation with Egyptian authorities, said they would not be meeting with Hamas.
Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. Dayton has provided testimony to the House Subcommittee on the Middle East regarding US assistance to strengthen Fatah. A most futile effort, as I have explained on previous occasions, because Fatah factions don’t all want to take on Hamas — insufficient weaponry and training is not the problem.
According to a news report, when Congressman Mike Pence (R-Indiana) raised questions, the General assured him that "Nothing we do to strengthen the Palestinians’ security capability will be targeted against Israel." What I would like to know — since assistance provided to PA security forces in the past DID end up being used against Israel — is how he can guarantee this now.