Israel and Russia are joining forces to supply the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority with hundreds of guns, millions of bullets and 50 armored vehicles.
The gift was approved by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to round out the latest package of "goodwill gestures" designed to encourage and strengthen PA Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) before next week's Middle East summit in Annapolis.
Sources in the IDF and the General Security Services (Shabak) opposed the “gesture,” calling it dangerous. Security officials expressed concern that the vehicles could end up in the hands of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or other terrorist groups that do not see themselves as bound by the deals between Israel and the Fatah-led PA. Exactly that happened in June when Hamas conquered Gaza from Fatah; Hamas terrorists took control of large quantities of weapons and US-bought military vehicles that had originally been supplied to local PA Fatah forces there in Gaza.
The new contingent of armored military vehicles is to be stationed in Shechem, the Biblical city today often referred to as the "terrorist capital of Judea and Samaria."
The Olmert government will donate a thousand guns and two million bullets to PA forces in a re-enactment of numerous similar gifts bestowed upon the Abbas government over the past 18 months.
Thousands of weapons and other materiel were shipped to the PA militia from U.S.-allies Egypt and Jordan earlier in the year, with the full knowledge and approval of the Olmert government. Most were confiscated by Hamas terrorists during skirmishes with Fatah over the year. Hamas took the rest five months ago when it routed the Gaza division of Abbas's personal guard, Force 17.
At that time, Al Aqsa Television broadcast footage of Hamas terrorists brandishing American assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), rocket launchers and ammunition, as they rode in and on 10 U.S.-supplied armored personnel carriers (APCs).
On December 22, 2006 Israel agreed to allow a shipment from Egypt of 2,000 Kalachnikov rifles, 20,000 magazines to feed bullets to the Kalachnikovs, and 2 million bullets to Abbas's Force 17.
In June 2006, the Olmert administration allowed 3,000 U.S.-manufactured M-16 automatic weapons and one million rounds of ammunition to be shipped to Abbas's militia. "I did this because we are running out of time and we need to help Abu Mazen," Olmert told reporters at the time.
Several of the weapons were used by terrorists shortly thereafter to murder one Israeli and wound several others in an attack on June 23, 2006, according to WorldNet Daily investigative reporter Aaron Klein.
The same day, the Hamas movement demanded a probe into another shipment of 1,000 semi-automatic rifles which Israel transferred to Abbas's forces after receiving them from Jordan.
A report by the WorldNetDaily news site contended that not only did Force 17 receive the weapons, but they had also already been used in terrorist attacks against Israel.
Two days later, IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit was captured by Hamas terrorists in a cross-border raid from Gaza. He has not been seen since.