U.S. WEAPONS GO TO ARABS

WND Exclusive


FROM WND’S JERUSALEM BUREAU
More U.S. weapons transferred to

Palestinians
Last week’s shipment was intercepted by Hamas terrorists


Posted: February 6, 2007
12:17 p.m. Eastern
By Aaron Klein
© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com

TEL AVIV – Just days after the Hamas terrorist group reportedly obtained an American arms shipment, the U.S. transferred more weapons to militias associated with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, WND has learned. Palestinian and Israeli security sources said 10 trucks filled with U.S. weapons were transported Sunday night from Egypt through the Kerem Shalom crossing into Israel and from there delivered by an Israeli Defense Forces convoy to Fatah security officials in the Gaza Strip.

The American weapons shipment, the sources said, contained assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, more than 500,000 rounds of ammunition and bullet-proof vests.

Officials from Force 17, Abbas’ security detail which also serves as de facto police units in Gaza, told WND the U.S. weapons were received Sunday night at the Ansar compound, a complex in northern Gaza housing headquarters of Fatah militias.

The U.S. weapons were provided to Abbas purportedly to bolster his Fatah forces against Hamas, according to defense sources. The two factions have engaged in nearly two months of deadly clashes after Abbas called for new Palestinian elections in a move widely seen as an attempt to dismantle the Hamas-led PA.

The latest American weapons transfer follows a botched transfer Thursday that was intercepted by an ambush during which Hamas says it obtained the U.S. weapons.

“We are in possession of American rocket-propelled grenades,” a leader of Hamas’ so-called military wing told WND Thursday. “This will prove to the Americans their conspiracy of toppling our government will be used against them.”

Fatah spokesman Tawfiq Abu Khoussa told reporters the attacked convoy was carrying generators, tents and medical equipment, but senior Israeli and Palestinian defense officials, including security sources from Fatah, confirmed to WND Hamas obtained American weapons.

The U.S. has been reportedly providing Abbas’ forces with aid and weapons the past few months.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last month told reporters the U.S. is working with Fatah to create a unified Palestinian security force. The Bush administration reportedly will grant $86.4 million to strengthen the Fatah forces, including Force 17, Abbas’ security detail, which also serves as de facto police units in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

WND reported the U.S. in recent weeks transferred 7,000 assault rifles and more than 1 million rounds of ammunition to Fatah militias.

The last confirmed American arms shipment to Fatah took place in May. At first, the shipment, consisting of 3,000 rifles, was denied by the U.S. and Israel, but Olmert in June admitted the transfer took place, telling reporters, “I needed to approve the shipment to help bolster Abbas.”

At the time, Abu Yousuf, a Fatah militant from Abba’s Force 17 security forces, told WND while some of the weapons may be used in confrontations against Hamas, the bulk of the American arms would be utilized to “hit the Zionists.”

He said if there is a major conflict with Israel, U.S. weapons provided to Fatah may be shared with other “Palestinian resistance organizations.”

“The first place of these U.S. weapons will be to defend the Palestinian national project, which is reflected by the foundation of the Palestinian Authority. If Hamas or any other group under the influence of Iran and Syria wants to make a coup de tat against our institution, these weapons are there to defend the PA,” said Abu Yousuf.

“We don’t want to go to civil war with Hamas, because this is what both the U.S. and Israel want. This is our last option. We hope our brothers in Hamas won’t oblige us to find ourselves in confrontation,” Abu Yousuf said.

But the Fatah militant said the new American weapons may also be used to target Israelis. He admitted previous American arms supplied to Fatah were used in “resistance operations” against the Jewish state.

“If Israel will deliver what it promised to Abu Mazen (Abbas), [meaning a] withdrawal from Palestinian lands, including east Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, remove all the checkpoints in the West Bank, release our prisoners, and find a clear solution for our refugees, we’ll control our forces and the distribution of weapons.

“But if Israel doesn’t deliver, and we find ourselves manipulated by Israel, we cannot guarantee members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Force 17 will not use these weapons against Israel. Our goal is to change the occupation,” said Abu Yousuf.

“Its unnatural to think these American weapons won’t be used against the Israelis,” he said.

Like some other Force 17 members, Abu Yousuf is openly also a member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

All Brigades leaders are also members of Fatah. Abbas last June appointed senior Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades leader Mahmoud Damra as commander of Force 17. Damra, who was arrested by Israel in November, was on the Jewish state’s most-wanted list of terrorists.

Abu Yousuf said the American weapons shipments may be shared with other Palestinian terror groups. He said that during large confrontations with Israel, such as the Jewish state’s 2002 anti-terror raid in Jenin, Fatah distributed weapons to Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

“We don’t look where this piece or that piece of weapon came from when fighting the Israelis,” Abu Yousuf said.

He also pointed to what he said was Hamas’ infiltration of some of Fatah’s security forces as a possible mechanism Hamas can use to obtain Fatah’s American-supplied weapons.

A senior Fatah security official, speaking last month to WND on condition his name be withheld, says Fatah has a “significant problem” of its militia members in Gaza joining Hamas.

Sources close to Hamas said the Fatah militants, including members of Force 17, worked with Hamas after receiving larger paychecks from the terror group.

“When they join Hamas, they bring along their new weapons,” said a Hamas source.

During a WND interview last month, Hamas spokesman Abu Oubaida told WND his terror group will obtain any American weapons transferred to Fatah militias or purchased by Fatah using the incoming $86.4 million in U.S. aid.

“I am sure that like in the past, this $86 million from America will find its way to the Hamas resistance via the honorable persons in the Fatah security organizations, including in Force 17. I can confirm 100 percent that this money and purchased weapons will find its way to Hamas,” said Abu Oubaida

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