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Sunday, October 22, 2006

Palestinian Civil War Watch: Mercenaries arriving to help Hamas

DEBKAfile is reporting that Palestinian, Syrian, Iranian, Lebanese and Hizballah mercenaries are streaming through the porous border between Gaza and Egypt in order to assist Hamas in its coming showdown with the more 'moderate' Fatah.
The influx aims to 1. Assure Hamas of a quick victory over Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority security services. The final Hamas-Fatah confrontation is planned to go ahead in both territories straight after the Eid festival Wednesday, Oct.25 and is expected to expand into a full-blown civil war. 2. Position Hizballah-style ambush squads armed with missiles for waylaying Israeli ground units, in the event a large-scale ground offensive is launched to stem Palestinian attacks and the smuggling of upgraded weaponry through the Gaza Strip tunnels.
DEBKAfile also looks on Wednesday as the deadline for an IDF strike in Gaza - a strike that appears increasingly unlikely despite lots of talk at today's cabinet meeting about 'recapturing' the Philadelphi route.
DEBKAfile’s military sources add: Because of the vacillations of the Olmert government, the IDF may have missed the boat for an offensive of this kind being surgical enough to avoid large-scale casualties. This week’s cabinet meeting Sunday Oct. 22 ended again without operational decisions.
In the meantime, what's going on in Gaza sounds like a fraternity rush:
The rival Palestinian factions are in the midst of a feverish arms-and-recruitment race. In Gaza, Hamas backed by the PRC, the Popular Front and al Qaeda followers has raised an estimated 15,000 recruits. The Iran-backed Jihad Islami is keeping its options open to see which side comes out on top. Hamas’ first ever-enlistment campaign on the West Bank, the traditional Fatah stronghold, has yielded several hundred recruits in its first stage. Several thousand joiners, many of them defectors from Abbas’ Presidential Force 17 and other Fatah frameworks, are to be fielded in a new “Independent Intervention Force.” Hamas scouts are handing out grants of thousands of dollars to defectors. Their object is to deplete the military strength available to Abu Mazen and assemble a military force able to stand up to the Israeli army on the West Bank.
It should be noted here that both Israel and the United States have either armed or promised to arm Force 17. That looks like a real effective strategy now, doesn't it?


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