The following information is from today's Israeli army press briefing. This is an update to seven previous dispatches on this email list on the suicide bombs in Haifa and Jerusalem last weekend. The last dispatch, sent yesterday, was titled, Hizbullah MPís praise the suicide attacks in Israel (December 4, 2001).
-- Tom Gross
ESSENTIAL BACKGROUND MATERIAL THAT ESCAPED THE ATTENTION OF MEDIA COVERAGE
On Monday morning, December 3, following the weekend murder spree that had taken the lives of 28 people in Arab terror attacks throughout Israel, Israeli Defense Forces terror experts held a briefing in front of a packed hall of foreign correspondents at an emergency situation room of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem.
The IDF spokespeople provided essential background material that had escaped the attention of media coverage, both in Israel and abroad.
The IDF stated that it had managed to stop 16 attempted suicide attacks over the past three weeks, besides the three attacks that it did not manage to forestall.
The IDF made it clear that Arafat's arrest of more than 100 people had nothing to do with the list of 108 suspects that Israel had asked Arafat to arrest, in accordance with the Oslo accords that require the PA to arrest suspects at the request of the government of Israel.
From the list of 108 suspects that Israel Foreign Minister Shimon Peres had handed over to Arafat, only one was arrested by Arafat... ten days before.
What the IDF made clear was that the suspects arrested by Arafat were almost all on the payroll of the PA, and not the leaders whom the IDF was seeking.
The IDF declared that the most important and significant Arab terror organization that had coordinated the series of terror attacks and attempted terror attacks was the Tanzim, which is directly funded and operated by Arafat's elite forces.
The IDF also reported that the Hamas and Islamic Jihad had been ordered by Arafat to give the impression that they were under pressure by Arafat to lay down their arms and to cease all terror activity, even though no such order was issued by Arafat or any other source of authority in the Palestinian Authority.
The IDF assessment was that Arafat had ignored the message delivered by U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell that Arafat would have to make a 100% effort to curtail terror activity.
The assessment of the IDF was that as the U.S. and the EU had continued and even increased their funding of the PA at this time, Arafat did not feel and had not internalized the U.S. warning that Arafat must reign in the forces of terror and provide real evidence that he had done so.