B"H [March 22, 1999, Nachliel, Israel]
EMERGENCY COMMITTEE FOR ISRAELIS IN DANGER
UNDERSTANDING ARAB FIRST STRIKE
PREPARATIONS IN YESHA
The Threat, Analysis, and Ramifications
of Official Response
By Mordechai Sones
First strike: Surprise assault to which the victim is unable to mount counterattack because attacker has destroyed or pre-empted his retaliatory capacity.
SUMMARY: In the past nine months, the author has concentrated on an independent assessment of the actual PA military capability in Yesha. In the course of this focused study, reports began to surface that the PA military is acquiring the specialized equipment and commando units, and is training militia for an overnight first strike against the yishuvim.
The three major sources of information indicating the possibility of a first strike have been as follows:
1) Eyewitness reports from a network of Yesha residents concerned about security;
2) Briefings, statements and leaks from IDF officials, Moetzet Yesha, and the Prime Minister's office, dealing with reports of a first strike capability;
3) Independent assessment by a military professional with expertise in first strike operations.
Indicators of such a first strike include the existence of 122 confirmed or suspected armored vehicles in PA hands, frequent rehearsals for night attack in the vicinity of the Yishuvim, and specialized gathering of critical intelligence by Arab day laborers on the yishuvim. The number of armored vehicles indicates a capability for an overnight first strike on about 40 yishuvim. The actions and statements of the IDF may indicate an official willingness to conduct a sudden "humanitarian" evacuation of an additional thirty or forty yishuvim shortly after an Arab first strike. Thus in one quick blow, approximately 2/3 of the yishuvim could be taken off the map:
1) Arab Militia Training in Judea and Samaria:
Recent Events & Actions by PA: Starting in late 1997, widespread night fire around outlying yishuvim began. Later, in July through September of 1998, daytime fire also occurred. In October the firing tapered off to solely nighttime firing.
High-up PA officials announced that "we have succeeded in providing military training to thousands" for an attack against yishuvim.1 [Footnote: 1) Marwan al-Barghuthi, Fatah head in Judea and Samaria; quoted in Amman al-Dustur, August 19, 1998.]
Observations and Analysis of PA Gunfire by Visiting Military Advisor: In November and December of 1998, a visiting military advisor traveling throughout Yesha analyzed the pattern of firing taking place. He noticed a burst of initial small arms fire from a number of weapons, followed by ten minutes of sporadic shooting. According to the advisor, this pattern of fire corresponds to the shooting that normally takes place during training for a final assault on an objective at night. Although the final assault portion is what is being heard, he added, this may actually be the final few minutes that would conclude two to six hours of silent approach to an objective under the cover of darkness.
Observations and Analysis of PA Training by Lt. Col. (res.) Yigal ben-David, Dec. 6, 1998:
"The invasion into Ariel yesterday, Shabbat, with the support of the Palestinian Authority, is without doubt part of a general plan to strike at the yishuvim, this time as a "dry-run" exercise. I have no doubt that these issues are known to you [Defense Minister Yitzchak Mordechai] and to the IDF. Their "police" forces (the name which is still stubbornly used to describe their army) comprise several divisions which include a number of battalions which are training to conquer yishuvim in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza."
A simultaneous night or pre-dawn attack would present Yesha with a fait accompli of 40 fallen yishuvim by sunrise.
When yishuv residents reported the widespread instances of PA weapons fire, the IDF claimed that these were Arab "weddings."
2) Arab Commando Forces Already in Position:
Recent Events & Actions by PA: There is confirmation of a 300 man Arab commando force in Shechem, and a report of a commando unit (Force 17) based in Hevron. There are indicators that there are other commando units being organized in additional locations as well.
Existing Arab commando units may spearhead much larger less trained PA armed militias in a surprise assault on Yishuvim.
The first overt military action taken as part of the Soviet first strikes on Prague (68), Kabul (79), and Vilna (91) was Soviet commandos breaking down the door and taking over the control tower of the main airport at 11PM to open the way for troop entry and air landings of more commandos. In all three cases the Soviet commando mission included the seizure of key leaders and the elimination of communications, striking at the nerve center to paralyze the targeted military structure. There are indicators that such targets on yishuvim are being identified - see section #4 on Arab labor below.
Utilizing information provided by the author, residents of a yishuv near Shechem in late November 1998 confronted IDF Shomron Area Brigade Commander Col. Yehuda Shaked with the existence of PA commando units and PA armored personnel carriers. The Brigade Commander, unprepared to be asked tough, informed questions in front of a town meeting, attempted to double talk his way out of admitting this threat ("But the BTR-152's are just trucks.Yes, the PA has them, but not here - somewhere else"). Rather than answering directly regarding the 300 commandos in Shechem, the Colonel was more interested in ascertaining the source who leaked the information. In the end, Shaked stammering unraveled for all to see - letting the residents of that community understand that the IDF may be wilfully suppressing information having life and death relevance to them.
3) PA Armored Vehicles:
Recent Events & Actions by PA:
The PA currently has acquired 14 mechanized BRDM2 platoons (42 BRDM2's), 50 BTR-152 armored personnel carriers, and a platoon of 30 flatbed trucks which have been reported transporting tracked armored vehicles.
Twenty-five BTR-152's with 12.7mm machine guns mounted on them arrived into the PA from Egypt in 1996, and 25 more were reported arriving in 1997.
Because the IDF limits yishuv self defense to small arms, the growing armor vehicle capability of the PA would render the assault troops it carries invulnerable to yishuv defenders. The IDF gate guards do not have anything stop these vehicles. The standard sliding gates for all yishuvim would buckle under the impact of such armored vehicles.
For a more detailed explanation of yishuv vulnerability to Arab armored personnel carriers, see addendum: "Arab Armored Vehicles in Yesha: The Threat".
The PA armored vehicle force is not capable of challenging the IDF, but would be unstoppable in a first strike on yishuvim. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that that is their purpose.
The most significant official response is the IDF refusal to provide anti-tank weapons for yishuv self defense. So far as we can tell, not a single anti-tank weapon has been provided to any of the IDF gate guard contingents assigned to the yishuvim.
Although the IDF spokesman in December 1998 would admit to 42 BRDM2s only in Gaza, IDF documents as far back as 1996 identified 6 BRDM2s in Ramallah.
On December 9, 1998, the author contacted Moetzet Yesha for their assessment of the PA armored vehicle threat. They claimed to know nothing of PA armored vehicles, and referred the author to Michael Freund in Prime Minister Netanyahu's office who, according to Moetzet Yesha, is their contact for such issues. Mr. Freund also claimed to have no knowledge of PA armored vehicles, and would only discuss the illegal numbers of PA forces. Although Oslo allows the PA 42 BRDM2s, Moetzet Yesha and the Prime Minister's office still would not admit their existence.2 [Footnote: 2) In this author's opinion, the era during which Jewish settlement activity led by Moetzet Yesha in and of itself constituted an essential contribution to Israeli security ended with the establishment of an Arab army in Yesha. Under these new circumstances, it is urgent that the simple steps needed to prevent an Arab first strike be taken immediately in order to restore the yishuvim to their previous status of military assets to the State of Israel. It would therefore not be appropriate to sacrifice security concerns with the assumption that greater numbers of Jewish Yesha residents will somehow "make up" for the flaws in current official Israeli policy vis-a-vis the threat of Arab first strike capability. Moetzet Yesha, which has done valuable work in the areas of settlement activity and real estate development, has sometimes overlooked vital security problems in what may be an attempt to deflect embarrassment away from the current government for the sake of protecting the status quo.] Apparently, Moetzet Yesha and the Prime Minister's office were either intent on suppressing information about PA armored vehicles or were so out of touch that they were not aware of the 42 light armored vehicles authorized by Oslo.3 [Footnote: 3) Questioned later by Yesha supporters about his downplaying of the PA military threat, a Moetzet Yesha official explained that he was concerned over the need to protect real estate values in Yesha. However, in this authors opinion, the best boost to real estate values in Yesha would be to expose and counter the threat, not to sweep it under the carpet.]
IDF Response to Ma'ariv Report of Armored Vehicles:
About ten days later, Ma'ariv ran an expose' of the PA armored forces (Dec 18`98). The IDF Spokesman tried to downplay some of the vehicles identified in the article and denied the existence of others. But the IDF Spokesman did not even address the most serious alleged armored threat: the fifty BTR-152 armored vehicles. Yet according to the aforementioned IDF documents, the IDF knew about BTR-152 vehicles in PA hands since 1996.
4) Arab Laborers on Yishuvim Detected Performing Intelligence Functions for Surprise First Strike:
Recent Events & Actions by PA:
Files in the Orient House and other locations contain topographical, logistic, military, and population information on every yishuv in Yesha. Arab laborers have been observed noting the homes of gun owners and potential leaders in each yishuv. Presumably, these reports are also going into the files of Orient House and would be the key documents used by the Arab commandos spearheading an assault.
The above mentioned intelligence gathering procedures would give the Arab commandos the information they need to paralyze yishuv defenses within minutes of smashing through the gates.
Yishuv residents, concerned about the security of their families, frequently discuss the presence of numerous Arab laborers on yishuvim.
Possible Arab Laborer Role in Day Assault:
During the day in several outlying, small yishuvim, most of the men who are armed are away at work and the Jewish population consists of women and children. Of those left behind during the day, few have weapons except for IDF guards with M16 rifles at the gate. Due to the flawed gate and perimeter security of yishuvim, Arab laborers would have no problem smuggling arms and ammunition inside. They could then easily overcome the two gate guards, take the arms room, and use the women and children as hostages. (Some yishuvim have banned Arab laborers, but the vast majority have not.)
Possible Arab Laborer Role in Night Assault:
The yishuv residents would be asleep. PA militia around the yishuvim can be mobilized under the cover of darkness to bring their manpower advantage to bear. Armored vehicles approaching the yishuvim would be harder to detect, since the night-vision equipment in PA hands would allow them to approach the yishuvim without using headlights. The Arab laborers, knowledgeable of yishuv streets and buildings, would be attached to lead elements of the assault forces, directing them to vital targets in the yishuv. Vital targets include the arms room. Alarm systems, buildings with communications equipment, and the homes of key leaders and gun owners.
Possible PA Decision for Night Assault:
Given the aforementioned PA night assault training and equipment, a decision for a night assault may be currently in effect.
IDF countermeasures on laborers are badly misdirected or nonexistent. Some yishuvim even have Arab guards "guarding" the Arab workers. In many yishuvim, the IDF relies on ineffective "window dressing" security measures to give an illusion of security when in reality there is none. The author photographed and videotaped dozens of illegal Arab laborers freely entering holes in fences of yishuvim from nearby Arab settlements under PA jurisdiction, while IDF guards put on a show of checking magnetic ID cards at the main gates.
Additionally, thousands of illegal Arab laborers daily circumvent IDF roadblocks utilizing dirt roads in places such as Kiryat Sefer, Bet Lechem, Tzurif, Kalkilya, Ramot, and tens of others. This way, weapons could be smuggled back and forth from Gaza to Judea and Samaria and also into Israel within the green line.
When confronted with this problem by the author, IDF Benjamin Area Brigade Commander Col. Yossi Hayman admitted that the State of Israel needs those illegal laborers because of a shortage of manpower. He then said that he considers the IDF roadblocks which the dirt roads circumvent to be "like doors without walls", and that "the IDF simply does not have the means to deal with the problem."
Officials in charge of security frequently point out that their priority is to provide the local Jewish residents with the "feeling of security." The creation of the "feeling of security" has replaced authentic security, which has apparently gone by the wayside.
5) Overall Analysis:
Lt. Col. (res.) Yigal ben-David's Assessment of IDF Policy; Dec. 6, 1998:
"The current state of affairs spells out an abandonment of the yishuvim by the defense establishment and plays into the hands of the Palestinian Authority and its plans. I assume that you [Minister of Defense Yitzchak Mordechai] are aware of this dire situation."
A Possible PA Approach:
Politically, the PA forces would probably be directed to hold back from a massacre of the Jewish residents. Their orders would likely be to hold the residents under gunpoint until "humanitarian" IDF truck convoys arrive to evacuate them after daylight. However, even assuming that such discipline could be imposed upon the PA army forces, the larger armed civilian militias may not heed such constraints.
Netanyahu's Four Part Security Policy for Yesha:
For three years, the Netanyahu government maintained four policies toward yishuv security. Taken together, the four policies present a pattern which could indicate an official policy that would not protect the yishuvim effectively against a PA first strike assault:
a) Denial of anti-tank weapons to Yishuvim.
b) While occasionally publicizing information about the emerging PA threat, there seems to be a pattern of official suppression of information about the PA's specific first strike capabilities; e.g. armored forces, commando units, and night attack training.
c) Pressuring mayors associated with Moezet Yesha and the civilian military liaisons ("Ravshatzim") to downplay the threat and hinder Yishuv residents from taking remedial self-defense steps on their own initiative.
d) Insistence on an obsolete anti-terrorist scenario. The obsolete scenario calls for a Yishuv self-defense sufficient to overcome several terrorists holding hostages inside a Yishuv. Therefore, the scenario becomes the basis to equip and train Yishuv self-defense forces at a minimal level which leaves them vulnerable to the real scenario which the IDF refuses to use - an attack by PA militia and/or armor. The inappropriate IDF scenario provides a doctrinal basis to deny vital anti-tank weapons to Yishuv self-defense. It also limits Yishuv self defense forces to a small size and allows only a handful of small arms. Most importantly, the ammunition provided under the scenario is enough for several minutes of combat and would not withstand a PA ground assault for long, even without armored vehicles.
The IDF's insistence on the obsolete scenario makes no sense in terms of actual PA military capabilities but it makes sense if the intention is to keep Yishuvim vulnerable. So far, the apparent deception has succeeded because the public is not experienced at analyzing scenarios and finds it easier to give the Netanyahu government and the IDF the benefit of the doubt.
ARAB ARMORED VEHICLES IN JUDEA, SAMARIA, AND GAZA
The Threat: Armored vehicles are a particular threat to the yishuvim because they can easily smash their way through yishuv gates. The armored vehicles could roam within the yishuvim because the IDF has withheld anti-armor weapons from yishuv stockpiles. The IDF also appears to be withholding information about Arab armored vehicles in Yesha.
The Soviet BTR-152 armored troop carrier was produced from 1950 to 1960, and has appeared in many variants and seen action on many fronts, including the Middle East and Afghanistan. The BTR-152 in Palestinian hands has a mount for the 12.7mm D.Sh.K. heavy machine gun. It has a 6x6 wheel drive configuration. It can hold 2 crew members (driver + commander) and 17 fighters. The BTR-152 is equipped with night vision equipment for the driver. It weighs 8950 kg and can travel at a speed of 75 km/h. It's power-to-weight ratio is 12.29 hp/1000kg making it capable of taking down the gates of any yishuv.
The BRDM-2 is a fully armored, four-wheel-drive, amphibious reconnaissance vehicle. It has two-pairs of belly wheels and a centralized tire pressure regulation system for increased cross-country capability. The BRDM-2 has a box-like hull with a boat-shaped bow. The engine is mounted in the vehicle rear and there is a small conical turret mounted on the hull above the belly wheels. The driver sits at the front of the hull on the left with the vehicle commander to his right. To enter the vehicle, the crew must climb through two roof hatches. The hull, which is constructed of welded steel, provides the crew with protection from small arms and shell splinters. The turret, which is very similar to that of the BTR-60PB and Czechoslovak OT-64, is located in the center of the vehicle and is armed with a 14.5-mm KPVT machine gun with a 7.62mm PKT machine gun. On either side of the hull adjacent to the crew position, there is a firing port. Immediately behind the firing port are three vision blocks which protrude from the outside of the hull, giving some vision to the front and rear of the vehicle. The belly-wheels are chain driven and are lowered by the driver and give the BRDM-2 improved cross-country performance and the ability to cross ditches. The driver can adjust the tire pressure on all four tires or individual tires while the vehicle is in motion to adjust to the ground conditions. The BRDM-2 is fully amphibious. It is propelled in the water by a single water jet at the rear of the hull. The vehicle has an over-pressure NBC system. The BRDM-2 is equipped with infrared driving and search lights, a radio and an inertial land navigation system. At the front of the vehicle is a winch which has 30m of cable and has a maximum load of 4000-kg. Other armored vehicles residents should learn to recognize because the PA army may have them already or can easily get them from countries supporting the PA, such as Egypt or others: Tracked vehicles or Half-tracks: White M2 Half-track; BTR-50, PT-76, BMP
Wheeled armored personnel carriers: BTR-62.-60, OT
COMPARING RANGE OF PA 12.7mm MACHINE GUN VS. YESHA 7.62mm MACHINE GUN
Machine guns given to Yishuvim are inferior to those in PA hands, giving PA forces standoff capability of close to a kilometer (The point may be moot, though, as the IDF is in the process of removing even the existing machine guns from some yishuv weapons rooms. Additionally, the IDF provides most yishuvim with only approximately 20 minutes of ammunition for a heavy combat situation.) The standoff capability means that even if the yishuvim were able to detect early warning indicators of a first strike and shoulder arms accordingly, they would still be unable to defend themselves.
MAXIMUM RANGE including targets in defilade MAXIMUM EFFECTIVE RANGE aimed direct fire 7.62mm Browning M1919A4 (0.3 - "Efes Shalosh" (Yesha) 1.475 km 1.1 km 12.7mm D.SH.K. or Gurianov (PA) 2 km to 3 km 1.5 km PA range advantage over Yesha 525 to 1525 meters 400 meters The penetrating power or force of the 12.7mm is roughly three times greater than that of the 7.62mm when compared in accordance with the physics equation (power equals mass times velocity squared).
THE ROLE OF MORDECHAI SONES OF THE EMERGENCY COMMITTEE FOR ISRAELIS IN DANGER (ECID)
The danger to Judea, Samaria, and Gaza is reaching its peak. The flood of arms and ammunition that has secretly been smuggled to PA forces for years is finally public knowledge. PA actions indicate they may be gearing up for a war after the Israeli elections. New evidence indicates that the PA has at least 122 armored vehicles. But the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) does not yet allow a single anti-armor weapon for Yishuv self-defense.
The fate of 180,000 men, women, and children in Yesha hangs in the balance. Tied up with their fate is the potential loss of Israel's historical heartland and defensible borders along the Jordan river. Jews and friends of Israel have yet to act. Some logically assume that the IDF and the Netanyahu government would not ignore such a threat. Others do not yet fully grasp Yesha's strategic and economic role in Israel's survival.
A campaign to avert the threat has begun. This fall, Mordechai Sones, a tour guide living in Samaria, began pressing the Netanyahu government to avert the danger through public talks, Internet updates, and media appearances in Israel and the U.S.Meanwhile, Sones' supporters created ECID, a US-based non-profit to help out.
Sones' awareness campaign has four methods:
1) Uncover more facts about PA preparations for war;
2) Uncover more facts about the inadequacy of the IDF's response;
3) Identify steps Yesha residents can take on their own to improve their odds;
4) Draft legislation to enable Israelis to debate and change policy.
Sones needs more help for the many hurdles ahead. This dangerous moment may also contain an opportunity. As the fatal flaws of Camp David/Madrid/Oslo/Wye become clear, the door to a constructive alternative and an authentic Mideast peace may open. Can you help today? In the US, make out checks to "ECID". Send to ECID, P.O.B. 32833, Baltimore, MD. 21282-2833. In Israel, send checks to Mordechai Sones directly - Yishuv Nachliel, D.N. Modi'in, 71938. To ask questions or volunteer call Sones in Israel at 972-8-924-0365.