March/April 2000

GSS Warns of Terror After IDF Withdraws

By Arieh O'Sullivan

JERUSALEM (April 25) - The security establishment believes Hizbullah may take its war into the heart of the country or attack Israeli targets abroad once the IDF withdraws from south Lebanon.

The General Security Service's assessment is that Hizbullah, aided by Iran, will try to use the logistical and intelligence support of Hamas and Islamic Jihad to carry out attacks in Israel.

It will also try to attack Israeli targets abroad, including striking at airlines, a security source said.

While Israel hopes that removing its forces from Lebanon will delegitimize further conflict, the defense establishment, particularly senior IDF officers, maintains that Hizbullah will continue to attack.

The massive military presence and sophisticated border protection which the IDF is preparing will likely deter cross-border attacks. This is one of the factors behind the believed intentions to take the battle elsewhere.

Security sources said an international infrastructure of cells and support groups is likely, particularly in regions with large Moslem populations like South America and the Far East.

Security sources said there is also a large fund-raising drive being carried out for these efforts among Moslems around the world.

Hizbullah has been involved in attacks outside the security zone. The 1996 explosion at the Lawrence Hotel in east Jerusalem was caused when a Hizbullah operative was preparing a bomb. The bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aries was also thought to be an Iranian-orchestrated Hizbullah retaliation for an IDF attack on one of its leaders.

Palestinians see Hizbullah as an example of success that can be emulated in the territories.

Islamic Jihad has already been given instructions by Iran to aid Hizbullah. However, Hamas is known to like its independence.

Despite the terrible blow the Israeli and Palestinian security forces have delivered to the Hamas terrorist infrastructure over the past two years, Hamas still has high motivation to carry out a terror attack that would derail the peace process.

The current assessment is that Hamas will try to return to the level of attacks it staged in 1997-1998, the security source said. In fact, most of the Hamas efforts in the past year were to rebuild its infrastructure.

Therefore, the security establishment still sees Hamas, not Hizbullah, as the central terrorist threat. The shootings and attempts to kidnap IDF soldiers will likely continue.

Furthermore, the security source said that the defense establishment in the future will deal less with eliminating terrorist activity and more with foiling it. This is mainly a realization of the inability to uncover every terror cell, its weapons and plans, the security source said.

Foiling attacks and not eliminating them is a recognition of reality, the source said. This is mainly blamed on the exit of the IDF from population centers in Judea and Samaria and restrictions on movement in the Palestinian-controlled areas.

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