The Fatah terrorist group claimed responsibility for a shooting attack in Ramallah on IDF soldiers Thursday morning following a declaration that a deal made with the Olmert government is over.
The Fatah-affiliated Al-Aksa Brigades, 178 of whose members were awarded amnesty by the Olmert government, announced Wednesday that it was backing out of its commitment to refrain from attacks. Under the deal, wanted terrorists were taken off the IDF’s wanted list on the condition that they handed in their weapons and join Fatah’s PA security forces.
A shooting attack in the village of Sinjil, near Ramallah, was also claimed by the Al-Aksa Brigades. "Our warriors were engaged in an armed battle with the soldiers in the Israeli military patrol and we managed to inflict direct casualties among the soldiers and our men returned to their bases safely," the group faxed Arabic news agencies.
The IDF confirmed that soldiers had come under attack in Ramallah, but said no injuries or damage were reported.
The Al-Aksa terror group said that it backed out of the deal due to the IDF’s arrest of two terrorists who were supposed to be on the amnesty list.
The IDF caught the two men at a checkpoint and said they were involved in terrorist activity, mandating their arrest according to the stipulations of the amnesty deal.
US Still Pushing Amnesty
Senior US security officials involved in training Fatah men reportedly in order to battle Hamas are insisting that Israel continue to grant amnesty to the Al-Aksa terrorists despite the recent declarations and attacks.
The US team, headed by Keith Dayton, is reportedly seeking to add other Al-Aksa terrorists to the list of those granted amnesty.
Fatah in Gaza Declares Rocket War on Israel
Al-Aksa Brigades terrorists in Gaza have announced that they are starting to launch hundreds of rockets and mortar shells at Israeli towns and cities.
The group named its campaign, calling it “Hole in the Wall II.”
UN Envoy: Israel Needs to do More
The UN’s Middle East Envoy Michael Williams said Wednesday that Israel must take more “far-reaching steps” in order to improve Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas’s standing among the PA Arab public. Williams called the release of 250 terrorists and the amnesty granted to Al-Aksa Brigades terrorists a “positive sign” but insisted: “I’d like to see further steps.”
Williams specified that the UN seeks the removal of security checkpoints and the destruction of Jewish towns defined as “outposts” [i.e. established after Ariel Sharon became prime minister in 2002].
Abbas Blames Israel
"It is impossible to conduct a peace process, to advance negotiations and to achieve results as long as Israel continues with its policy of military strikes," Fatah’s Abbas said in a statement released by his office following several IDF strikes on Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists.
Abbas accused PM Olmert of not keeping his promise to remove security checkpoints across Judea and Samaria. Olmert reportedly was rebuffed by IDF top brass, who insisted that removal of many of the checkpoints would pose an immediate threat to Israel’s citizens.
Haaretz Publishes Olmert ‘Trial Balloon’
Just a week after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s office denied the existence of such a proposal, Haaretz reported Thursday that a “senior official involved in talks” said that the plan currently being negotiated by Israeli and PA official entails withdrawal to the western side of the Partition Wall and the relinquishing of land within pre-1967 Israel in return for retention of “settlement blocs.”
The Haaretz report follows the format of a "trial balloon" similar to Olmert's own proposal of a Gaza withdrawal on behalf of Ariel Sharon prior to Sharon's announcement of the plan soon after. “The starting point is the separation fence, without additional areas slated for the expansion of settlements,” the report reads. “This leaves 92 percent of the area of the West Bank in Palestinian hands. The final area of the new state will be larger than the area east of the fence, but smaller than the area proposed in the Geneva Accord [a private initiative spearheaded by Israel’s far-left that proposed a near-total withdrawal with a land-swap –ed.].
“Among themselves, Israeli officials talk about the need to begin applying the principles of the Evacuation-Compensation Law on West Bank settlers. Two bills have recently been proposed on this issue, one by Colette Avital (Labor) and Avshalom Vilan (Meretz), and the other by Amir Peretz and Yuli Tamir (Labor).”
The plan also includes the relinquishing of Israeli sovereignty over the Old City of Jerusalem, with holy sites “administered jointly by representatives of the three religions.”