Here we go again. We've seen it before strategically timed. Weigh all Israeli claims skeptically. On its face, this one lacks credibility.
Cui bono? Not Syria embroiled for months battling an externally generated insurgency and threats of foreign intervention.
Why provide greater cause while trying to defuse crisis conditions, cooperate with Arab League observers, enlist outside support, and offer opposition elements places in a broad-based government along the lines of a national unity one.
At the same time, Hamas and Fatah plan May elections for unity governance. They both want conflict resolution, not confrontations.
Nonetheless, Israel connects Syria and Hamas with West Bank terror cells.
On January 19, Haaretz headlined, "IDF exposes Syria-funded Islamic Jihad terror cell in West Bank," saying:
"Israeli security forces have recently discovered an Islamic Jihad terror cell which was planning attacks against Israeli soldiers," according to defense officials.
Ten "Islamic Jihad militants were arrested near Jenin in recent months." Israel claims connections to Syria-based Islamic Jihad (IJ). Large money transfers went for weapons and other operations.
Israel also alleges IJ ties to Gaza and the so-called Islamic Union in Jerusalem.
According to Shin Bet (Israel's security service), attacks on IDF soldiers and settlements were planned. In addition, abducting Israelis were involved. Suspects were charged with membership in an illegal organization, transferring funds from abroad, contact with foreign agents, illegal weapons possession, and conspiracy to trade arms and military equipment.
Last September, Israel claimed foiling other multiple terror attacks. At the time, dozens of "Hamas militants" were arrested. An explosive belt smuggled into Jerusalem was allegedly seized 24 hours before the planned attack, according to Israeli officials.
They claimed foiling it was part of a large-scale Shin Bet/IDF/police operation against Hamas' West Bank/East Jerusalem "military infrastructure."
Israel said 13 terror cells were involved, the main one in Hebron. Allegedly they planned West Bank/Jerusalem attacks. They kept contact "with Hamas headquarters in Syria, and the date of the attack was set for August 21."
Another plot supposedly involved a "suicide bomber" armed with a fire extinguisher containing six kilograms of explosives. The same cell was blamed for a March Jerusalem bus station attack.
The tired story's going stale. Incendiary buzz words highlight "terrorist attacks," "multiple cells" infested with "militants," "suicide bombers," and "Hamas/Syrian connections."
Israel also claimed a man named Ahmad Madhoun got $10,000 to buy Saudi weapons as part of a plot to kidnap an Israeli soldier.
Shin Bet alleges Hamas wants its West Bank military infrastructure restored to "execute terrorist attacks." Plausible reasons why and proof weren't provided. In fact, Hamas only responds when attacked. It doesn't initiate terror strikes.
Israel's allegations wreak of duplicity. Hamas and Syria have nothing to gain and everything to lose. Yet Shin Bet claims terror cells prove Damascus plans rehabilitating its West Bank infrastructure to attack Israel. No cause or evidence was given, just baseless accusations to incite fear, blame Hamas and Syria, and provide pretexts for likely attacks on one or both.
In other words, only Israel and Washington benefit. Vilifying Hamas and Syria continue. Expect conflict to follow.
A Final Comment
On January 19, Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) Aziz Dweik was arrested in the West Bank for alleged involvement with terrorist groups. Israel didn't comment.
At a checkpoint, soldiers handcuffed, blindfolded, arrested, and detained him. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh urged Abbas to halt sham Amman talks with Israel, saying:
"A Palestinian should not shake the hand of his enemy, the enemy who arrests the symbols of Palestinian legitimacy. We want to see something in the West Bank. We want to see the prisoners freed. We want to see the security coordination with the occupation stopped."
"Palestinian reconciliation and security cooperation with the occupation are two parallel lines that cannot meet.
The Palestinian parliament hasn't functioned since Hamas and Fatah split in 2007. In 2006, Dweik was arrested with other Hamas officials, held uncharged for three years, then released in 2009.
He faced similar abuse earlier, including imprisonment and torture. Moreover, in 1992, he and hundreds of other Hamas leaders were expelled to Marj A-Zohour in Southern Lebanon until allowed back.
Since Hamas was elected Palestine's legitimate government, dozens of its parliamentarians were harassed, threatened, arrested, detained and abused. Twenty-three remain incarcerated, including 20 uncharged under administrative detention.
Israel has thousands of political prisoners, including children and politicians wanting occupation-free liberation. Israel calls that a crime.
On January 20, deputy PLC head Ahmad Bahar and other parliamentary leaders denounced Dweik's "kidnapping." Demanding his immediate release, a joint press release said:
"The abduction of Dr. Dweik is another Israeli crime against the Palestinian people and their democratically elected officials."
Bahar asked Arab League and Organization of the Islamic Conference members, as well as UN authorities, to intervene on his behalf. He also accused Israel of trying to undermine Palestinian unity, then added:
"What happened requires (Abbas) to declare an immediate stop to the negotiations in Amman in respect of our people and in respect of the parliament and its head."
"It should be a firm message to the occupation that their continued crimes will not be given cover by the Palestinian Authority and will not pass without a response."
As of evening January 20, Abbas and his office hadn't commented.
Dweik was abducted after meeting with South Africa's West Bank representative. Earlier, he and other Hamas officials held talks with MK Hanin Zoabi.
In mid-July 2010, Israel's Knesset stripped her of key parliamentary rights and privileges for having participated in the May 2010 Freedom Flotilla bringing vital aid to Gaza. Since then, she's been vilified, threatened, and may be prevented from standing for reelection. Hard-liners call her a "traitor."
They also support state terrorism against Palestinian civilians, including suffocating Gazans under siege. Their struggle for Palestinian liberation continues.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.