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Israeli War Plan Revealed
Would Involve 30,000 Troops; Israeli Officials Deny Plan Exists Palestinian Attack Prompts Shelling, Seizure Of Land Four Jewish Settlers Wounded, Palestinian Policeman Killed
JERUSALEM, July 12, 2001
(CBS) Israeli generals are planning for a possible massive invasion of Palestinian territories if the current Mideast cease-fire fails, says a published report denied by Israeli officials.
The report, published by the Jane's Information Group in London, says the goal of the action would be to destroy Palestinian armed forces and the Palestinian Authority, forcing Chairman Yasser Arafat back into exile, as he was for 12 years after the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon.
The plan calls for air strikes by F-15 and F-16 fighter-bombers, a heavy artillery bombardment, and then an attack by a combined force of 30,000 men, including paratroopers, tank brigades and infantry, reports CBS News Correspondent David Hawkins.
Israel's Arab neighbors, Syria, Jordan and Egypt are expected to stay out of the fight — but the report considers the possibility that Iraq might try to intervene with troops, who would be destroyed by the Israeli airforce. It also states that Egypt could invade the Sinai peninsula, forcing Israel to call up its reserves.
The report indicates that Israel expects up to 300 of its troops to die in such an attack, with Palestinian deaths in the thousands.
The Forces The Middle East is one of the most heavily militarized areas of the world. Israel is second only to North Korea in the percentage of citizens in uniform — 33.4 out of a thousand. The following are based on 1997 figures from the State Dept.: Israel
Spending: $9.3 billion Egypt
Spending: $2.1 billion Syria
Troops: 320,000 Spending: $3.4 billion Iraq
Spending: $1.2 billion Palestinian Authority
Troops: approx. 41,000
The report says the Israeli invasion plan would be launched after another suicide bomb attack which causes a large number of deaths, like the one at a Tel Aviv disco last month.
"That there is an Israeli contingency plan to re-occupy the Palestinian areas comes as no surprise at all," said Francis Tusa, a defense analyst. "That it is being pushed up the list and that it's a leading option — this is coming as a bit more of a surprise and a worrying one."
The Jane's report indicates that the plan was presented to the Israeli cabinet on July 9. It reflects a possible change in thinking in the current government; earlier governments rejected a military solution to the Middle East dispute.
But Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon dismissed the rumors of war Thursday, saying he has no plans to escalate the conflict.
"There is no imminent danger of war … I also don't see either a deterioration or escalation but I definitely see a situation in which terrorism continues," Sharon told reporters on his plane en route to his first official visit to Italy.
"People in the military get paid to make plans all the time," cautioned Hirsch Goodman, an Israeli military analyst. "There are plans and there are plans."
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said no such plan was ever submitted or discussed. "I'm so happy to see that such an important journal has such a fertile imagination. It simply didn't happen," he told Israeli army radio.
Four Jewish settlers, including a baby, were wounded in shootings Thursday, reports CBS News Correspondent Robert Berger.
In response, Israeli tanks shelled Palestinian targets in Nablus, killing a Palestinian policeman. More than 10 tank shells exploded within seconds of each other, sending white smoke into the air over Nablus.
An Israeli military official said soldiers took over a hill overlooking Nablus. The incursion is one of only a few such incidents — which anger Palestinians — since Israel and the Palestinians adopted a U.S.-brokered truce on June 13.
Late Thursday, a heavy exchange of fire broke out in Hebron between Palestinians and the Israeli military, after two Israelis were seriously wounded in a Palestinian gunfire attack. Witnesses said Israeli tanks shelled Palestinian buildings, setting one on fire.
Overall at least 480 Palestinians, 124 Israelis and 13 Israeli Arabs have been killed since a Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza erupted last September after peace talks stalled.
A meeting of Israeli and Palestinian security officials assessing the implementation of the U.S.-brokered cease-fire broke up late Wednesday amid bitter recriminations.
Palestinian officials complained of what they said were serious Israeli truce violations, including the killing of a Palestinian woman near an Israeli checkpoint Wednesday, and the demolition of of Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem this week.
-- Martin Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 12, 2001
Thursday, July 12 9:18 PM SGT
Israeli generals' plan to "smash" Palestinians: report
LONDON, July 12 (AFP) - Israeli generals have updated plans for an all-out assault to smash the Palestinian authority, force out leader Yasser Arafat and kill or detain its army, according to a report published Thursday in London.
Foreign Report, published by the influential Jane's information group, says it has seen what it claims to be an executive summary of a proposal presented to the Israeli government Sunday.
The assault would be launched at the government's discretion after the next big suicide bomb attack in Israel that causes widespread deaths and injuries, citing the bloodshed as justification.
According to Foreign Report, the generals envisage a military operation of up to one month.
Estimated Israeli casualties would be measured in the hundreds. Palestinian losses would be in their thousands.
By the end of the operation, the generals believe Arafat would either have left or been forced to leave the West Bank and Gaza Strip. His closest allies would be either dead or also out of the area.
The Palestinian armed forces, estimated at some 40,000, would be disarmed, and either dead or held in detention camps.
The blueprint, with the title "The destruction of the Palestinian Authority and disarmament of all armed forces," was presented by Israeli chief of staff Brigadier-General Shaul Mofaz, Foreign Report said.
A suicide bomb attack would provide the necessary motive for Israeli troops as well as enabling Israeli ambassadors and other officials to tell concerned countries that military action was a justified response.
The journal's sources said the Israeli army's current high command, perhaps reflecting the views of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, wants the military to be given a more assertive role.
The planned operation would certainly do that.
It would begin with heavy air raids by F-16 and F-15 warplanes against all the main Palestinian Authority installations in Gaza and Ramallah.
It might be preceded by a heavy artillery barrage to soften up targets.
Israel would then deploy around 30,000 paratroopers, infantry and armoured brigades, the equivalent of an army.
The Palestinians may not put up much resistance, the proposals say, but if they do, around 300 Israeli soldiers might be killed.
As for international reaction, that would be too little, too late.
The generals say some kind of peace force would probably be sent to protect the Palestinians, but by the time it got there it would be faced with a "fait accompli."
Moreover, Israel's neighbours would be unlikely to retaliate with any great effect, the planners believe.
Quoting forecasts by the military intelligence service, the generals doubt Egypt, Jordan or Syria would want to go to war on behalf of the Palestinians.
Egypt might send troops into Sinai, in response to which Israel would call up its reserves.
Iraq may try to mobilise its forces, but they would be destroyed by Israeli warplanes before they could even reach the Jordanian border.
http://english.hk.dailynews.yahoo.com/headlines/world/afp/article.html ? s=hke/headlines/010712/world/afp/Israeli_generals__plan_to__smash__Pal estinians__report.html
-- Martin Thompson (email@example.com), July 12, 2001.
ISRAEL'S FOES GEAR FOR WAR By URI DAN ---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------
GUNNED DOWN IN GAZA: A friend kisses the body of a Hamas terrorist yesterday - shot by Israelis while trying to plant a bomb at the Gaza-Israel border. AP
July 14, 2001 -- JERUSALEM - Palestinian paramilitary groups yesterday issued a chilling call to arms to fend off any Israeli invasion of Palestinian-controlled areas in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, The Post has learned. The groups - Fatah and Hamas - have both been involved in terror attacks that have rocked the region for more than nine months, and brought the peace process to a virtual halt.
"The next days will be fateful and we have to be at the top of our preparedness to face the possibility of the invasion of the Zionist enemy to some parts of our liberated lands," read one directive from Fatah.
"The task of our competence will be not only to stop the Israeli forces, but to give them a lesson."
The directive then urges forces to prepare "thousands of Molotov cocktails" to hit back at armored Israeli vehicles, to place explosive devices along the roads and to prepare suicide bombers "who will be ready to die a martyr's death in the battle with the enemy."
Instructions also accompany the grim directive:
"Save your ammunition. Don't use light weapons against tanks and armored vehicles. Attack them only with Molotov cocktails. Create roadblocks."
And, the instructions urge, protect leaders of the Palestinian Authority "because the Israeli military might arrive at their homes and eliminate them."
Israel has repeatedly denied it is planning such an invasion.
Meanwhile, in London, a British newsletter that specializes in intelligence matters said the Israeli army will seek to destroy the Palestinian Authority's fighting forces in a massive offensive to start after the next major suicide bombing.
"Estimated Israeli casualties would be in their hundreds; Palestinian losses would be in their thousands," Jane's Foreign Report said, citing a source it said had seen the alleged plan by hard-line Israeli generals.
"By the end of the operation, the generals reckon that the president of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat, would have been forced to leave the West Bank or Gaza Strip," said the newsletter.
It said the aim was to force into exile or kill Arafat's close circle: "The 40,000-strong Palestinian armed forces would be disarmed and either dead or held in detention camps."
The report said the reason that Israel would wait until the next major suicide-bomb attack was that it would motivate the soldiers to be unflinching in their thirst for revenge.
The Israeli operation would be initiated by heavy F-16 and F-15 air raids - possibly preceded by an artillery barrage - on all the main Palestinian Authority command and control centers in Gaza and Ramallah, the report said.
It said that up to 30,000 paratroops, infantry and armored brigades would then quickly move in, with losses expected at up to 1 percent, or 300 men.
-- Martin Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 14, 2001.