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Viewing cable 05TELAVIV4405,

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05TELAVIV4405 2005-07-15 17:05 2011-01-26 10:10 SECRET Embassy Tel Aviv
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 TEL AVIV 004405 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/15/2015 

Classified By: Ambassador Daniel C. Kurtzer for Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D) . 

1. (C) Assistant Secretary Welch, Ambassador Kurtzer, Lt Gen Ward and NSC Director Mustafa met with MGen Moshe Kaplinsky, the IDF Deputy Chief of the General Staff, BGen Yossi Kuperwasser, IDI Chief of Production, and BGen Udi Dekel, Chief of Strategic Planning Branch, in the evening of July 14. The previously planned meeting took place shortly after news came in that a Qassam rocket fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip had killed an Israeli woman in Nativ Ha Asara. 

Recent Violence 

2. (C) Reviewing events of the day (July 14), BGen Kuperwasser reported that IDF soldiers killed a wanted PIJ activist with ties to the al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade early that morning in the Rafidiya neighborhood of Nablus. The PIJ organization in Gaza reacted by firing a Qassam rocket that impacted near the Israeli city of Sderot on Thursday morning, causing no casualties. PIJ cells fired additional rockets and mortars at Israeli targets in the Gush Katif settlement block. Hamas was not active during the morning events. 

Hamas Joins the Fray 

3. (C) Hamas cells, however, joined the attacks after 1200 hrs, firing four mortars and/or rockets that impacted Nahal Oz (inside the Green Line), lightly injuring three IDF soldiers, Kuperwasser explained. Cells also fired rockets and mortars at Israeli targets in and near the Gaza Strip. At approximately 1800 hrs, four rockets struck the Netiv Ha Asara moshav inside Israel north of Gaza, killing the 22-year-old Israeli woman and wounding her boyfriend, Kuperwasser stated. 4. (S) Hamas involvement in the fighting was likely due to two factors, Kuperwasser assessed. First, Hamas was unhappy with how PA President Abbas translated the results of his recent meeting with Hamas leader Khalid al Mashal in Damascus. Hamas believed that Abbas had agreed to allow the "follow-up committee" composed of representatives from the opposition, including Hamas, to participate in operational decisions in running the Gaza Strip through disengagement prior to the PLC elections. Abbas, according Kuperwasser, may have left Mashal with that impression in Damascus, but when Abbas returned home to strong criticism from his own party, advised opposition groups that they would only have an advisory role in Gaza administration. Kuperwasser said he believes that Hamas displayed its displeasure by "welcoming" Abbas' arrival in Gaza on the afternoon of July 14 with the attacks on Israeli targets, thus sending a strong message to Abbas that it would act in any matter it felt appropriate without consulting him. The attacks placed Abbas under enormous pressure. Kuperwasser also acknowledged that Hamas joined the fighting on Thursday afternoon in response to continued IDF operations in the northern West Bank. 

PA-IDF Security Coordination 

5. (S) MGen Kaplinsky characterized overall security coordination with the PA in recent weeks as very good. He stated that there have been three meetings with PA MOI MGen Nasir Yusif's deputy, BGen Jamal Abu Zayd ) one that he attended, and two attended by MGen "Haki" Harel, the IDF chief of Planning Branch. The meetings have been good, he stated, very "sincere," with wide representation from all of the PA security organizations. The two sides agreed to meet every 10-14 days at the operational level, with each meeting followed up by meetings between field commanders. Kaplinsky said that coordination has been good, with both sides talking about specifics on the map. The two sides, he stated, have also agreed to conduct joint exercises (scheduled for early August). Kaplinsky stated that the IDF still intended to meet with PA counterparts next week, despite the ongoing attacks. 

6. (S) Unfortunately, Kaplinsky stated, despite the good coordination, no results are apparent on the ground. This led him to conclude that the PA counterparts with whom the IDF is coordinating do not have power over forces on the ground. Nasir Yusif's influence on the ground, he stated, is poor. During every meeting with the PA, he said, the IDF drives home the point that it will not disengage under fire. Disengagement, however, has begun and "we are under fire." Kaplinsky gave credit to the PA for its efforts against smuggling tunnels. The PA's inability, however, to arrest Hassan Madhun, the Fatah cell leader responsible for numerous attacks against the Gaza crossing facilities, underscored its overall ineffectiveness. The IDF, he stated, will continue to talk and coordinate with the PA, but it is not happy with the level of PA activity on the ground. 

7. (S) Ambassador Kurtzer asked Kaplinsky what realistic steps he would counsel Nasir Yusif to take if he were Yusif's advisor. Kaplinsky said he would would first advise Yusif to take action against PIJ. PIJ is a small group, without popular Palestinian support. Nasir Yusif has the capability to challenge PIJ, even with his divided forces. He should stop them from conducting attacks and arrest them. Second, Kaplinsky continued, the PA leadership should provide support to commanders who undertake difficult actions against opposition groups on the ground. It is critical that the PA leadership provide moral and verbal support to its commanders in the field. Kaplinsky's third hypothetical suggestion was to strengthen the "determination" of PA leaders to ensure that orders, once given, are fulfilled. LT Gen Ward concurred, stressing the need to verify that orders have been implemented. 

8. (S) Welch commended the IDF for its "huge" step forward in coordination with the PA, and stressed the importance of continuing the coordination. Ward underscored that the types of attacks now occurring come as no surprise, because everyone expected opposition elements to attempt to derail disengagement. What matters is not playing into the hands of these elements. 

9. (S) Welch asked if the PA had contacted the IDF for permission to transfer PIJ member XXXXX from Tulkarm to the PA prison in Jericho. Kaplinsky and Kuperwasser said they were not certain whether the PA had made such a request, but stated that the IDF normally authorized such transfers. Kuperwasser explained, however, that Nasir Yusif's forces did not have control of Saadi. PA Special Forces personnel under Bashir Nafiah were housing him and several other PIJ members in his headquarters in Tulkarm, to the consternation and protest of the local National Security Forces commander. 

10. (S) Turning to another PIJ figure from Tulkarm, Kuperwasser recounted that PIJ leader Louay al Saadi was released from Israeli prison in January 2004 as part of the Hizballah prisoner exchange deal. Saadi returned to the Tulkarm area and began organizing terror attacks. Kuperwasser said that Saadi is responsible for the February 25 suicide bombing at the Stage Club Tel Aviv, the car bomb that exploded near Mevo Dotan following the Stage Club attack, the killing of a Hermesh resident in a shooting attack on his vehicle an attempt to send two bombers into Jerusalem on May 31, the July 12 suicide bombing in Netanya and car bomb near Shavei Shomron. Kuperwasser said that the PA security forces in Tulkarm had close contacts with Saadi, in an attempt to recruit him and his cell members into the security forces. President Abbas, he said, was aware of the effort and was disappointed that Saadi refused to join, now realizing he cannot be integrated into the PA. 

Netanya Bombing 

11. (S) Kuperwasser charged that PIJ cells in the territories maintain close ties with PIJ headquarters in Damascus, which, for example, regularly provides funds, particularly following successful operations. He said that Louay al-Saadi received two payments of $15,000 each following the Stage attack. Damascus also has provided operational guidance to the field. There was a debate within the Damascus headquarters concerning whether it should support the "tahdiya," or calm, Kuperwasser explained, but as far as he knew no instructions were ever sent to the field telling it to cease operations. A couple of days prior to the Netanya bombing, Kuperwasser said that Saadi's organization provided "hints" to the Damascus leadership that it was planning an attack. The IDF was not able to decipher the "hints", but assumes that Damascus did not object to the attack. Following the Netanya attack, the Tulkarm-based cell admitted to the attack in messages to Damascus. Damascus, he said, showed no dismay over the message, and in fact was pleased. In the meantime, the Tulkarm PIJ took responsibility for the attack publicly through Reuters/al Jazira. The Damascus-based PIJ leadership instructed its leaders in Gaza to "clarify" with the PA that it was not/not behind the attack. Likewise, Kuperwasser stated, the Damascus-based PIJ headquarters ordered groups in Lebanon and Syria not/not to talk. 

12. (S) Following the attack, Kuperwasser continued, President Abbas attempted to convince the Damascus-based PIJ leadership not to admit to being behind the attack. Abbas, according to Kuperwasser, made an enormous effort to reach the Damascus leadership, arguing that admitting to the attack could lead to the collapse of the "cease-fire". PIJ leadership subsequently announced July 14 that it was bound to the "tahdiya" as long as Israel refrained from targeting the group, essentially stating that it was not bound to the cease-fire, Kuperwasser commented. (Note: Abbas issued orders to arrest Saadi on the evening of July 14.) 

Sensitive Time 

13. (S) BGEN Dekel commented that we are in a sensitive period, as disengagement has, for all practical purposes, already begun. Details are not important, he continued; the PA must take actions to stop the terror. Kuperwasser pointed out that Abbas had used the word "terror" in his denouncement of the Netanya bombing, his first public use of the word in such a context since 2003. No other PA leaders, however, have followed his lead, he commented. The PA must treat these attacks as terror, if progress is to be made, he said. Kaplinsky closed the meeting by reaffirming the IDF commitment to continue to coordinate with the PA in the hope that the process would lead to results on the ground. 14. (U) A/S Welch, Lt. Gen. Ward and Ms. Mustafa cleared this message. ********************************************* ******************** Visit Embassy Tel Aviv's Classified Website: You can also access this site through the State Department's Classified SIPRNET website. ********************************************* ******************** KURTZER