Fatah Militias Prepare for War with Israel and/or Revolt against Mahmoud Abbas

Oct. 26 2016

While Mahmoud Abbas’s faction of the PLO has, by and large, refrained from attacks on Israelis in the past several years, there are now signs that that is about to change, even as some Fatah elements have split off in loathing for the PA president himself. Khaled Abu Toameh writes:

The armed wing of Fatah, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, announced [recently] that its members have been enrolled in a new military academy for training “fighters” in the Gaza Strip . . . “in the context of a program for preparing for any future battle” with the “Zionist enemy.” . . .

[There are several] Fatah-affiliated militias that continue to operate in the Gaza Strip despite Hamas’s violent takeover of the area in the summer of 2007. These groups pose no threat to the Hamas regime, which is why they are allowed to operate freely. . . Their express purpose is to prepare for war with Israel and launch terror attacks against Israelis. Hamas, however, which expelled their leaders from the Gaza Strip and continues to persecute dozens of Fatah activists there, is not on their hit list. . . .

These groups believe that they represent the real Fatah, the one that never recognized Israel’s right to exist and holds on to armed struggle as the only way to “liberate Palestine.” . . .

The power play among Fatah militias in Gaza reflects the wider division among Fatah’s political leaders. According to Palestinian sources, Fatah leaders in the strip have dissociated themselves from the faction’s leadership in the West Bank. Abbas’s aides blame exiled Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan for the schism. . . . [Recently], thousands of Fatah members who are loyal to Dahlan staged a large demonstration in the Gaza Strip against Abbas. During the protest, they burned and trampled on pictures of the PA president.

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More about: Fatah, Gaza Strip, Israel & Zionism, Mahmoud Abbas

 

Syria’s Downing of a Russian Plane Put Israel in the Crosshairs

Sept. 21 2018

On Monday, Israeli jets fired missiles at an Iranian munitions storehouse in the northwestern Syrian city of Latakia. Shortly thereafter, Syrian personnel shot down a Russian surveillance plane with surface-to-air missiles, in what seems to be a botched and highly incompetent response to the Israeli attack. Moscow first responded by blaming Jerusalem for the incident, but President Putin then offered more conciliatory statements. Yesterday, Russian diplomats again stated that Israel was at fault. Yoav Limor comments:

What was unusual [about the Israeli] strike was the location: Latakia [is] close to Russian forces, in an area where the IDF hasn’t been active for some time. The strike itself was routine; the IDF notified the Russian military about it in advance, the missiles were fired remotely, the Israeli F-16s returned to base unharmed, and as usual, Syrian antiaircraft missiles were fired indiscriminately in every direction, long after the strike itself was over. . . .

Theoretically, this is a matter between Russia and Syria. Russia supplied Syria with the SA-5 [missile] batteries that wound up shooting down its plane, and now it must demand explanations from Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. That won’t happen; Russia was quick to blame Israel for knocking over the first domino, and as usual, sent conflicting messages that make it hard to parse its future strategy. . . .

From now on, Russia will [almost certainly] demand a higher level of coordination with Israel and limits on the areas in which Israel can attack, and possibly a commitment to refrain from certain actions. Syria, Iran, and Hizballah will try to drag Russia into “handling” Israel and keeping it from continuing to carry out strikes in the region. Israel . . . will blame Iran, Hizballah, and Syria for the incident, and say they are responsible for the mess.

But Israel needs to take rapid action to minimize damage. It is in Israel’s strategic interest to keep up its offensive actions to the north, mainly in Syria. If that action is curtailed, Israel’s national security will be compromised. . . . No one in Israel, and certainly not in the IDF or the Israel Air Force, wants Russia—which until now hasn’t cared much about Israel’s actions—to turn hostile, and Israel needs to do everything to prevent that from happening. Even if that means limiting its actions for the time being. . . . Still, make no mistake: Russia is angry and has to explain its actions to its people. Israel will need to walk a thin line between protecting its own security interests and avoiding a very unwanted clash with Russia.

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More about: Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Russia, Syrian civil war