Ha'aretz -- Wednesday, July 26, 2000

Ha'aretz: Settlers get IDF okay to use live ammunition;
PA preparations for trouble include stockpiling arms,
food and gasoline, says Mofaz

By Gideon Alon, Ha'aretz Knesset Correspondent

IDF Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz yesterday revealed that IDF officers and settlers in the West Bank have been given orders to take "all necessary measures" to prevent Palestinian demonstrators from breaking through the perimeter fence of settlements in case of attack. The orders clearly imply that the defenders of the settlements are authorized to shoot with live fire in order to prevent entry.

Mofaz told the Knesset Foreign Policy and Defense Committee of the orders during an extensive briefing regarding the possible scenarios of clashes with the Palestinians in the event that the Camp David Summit will collapse.

Some military intelligence estimates suggest a broad scale conflagration is expected in the territories if the summit fails. Mofaz said that there are clear signs of preparations being undertaken by the Palestinian Authority for armed clashes with the IDF. He cited stockpiling of fuel, food and medicine to fend off an Israeli siege of Palestinian towns and villages, as examples.

According to the General, the Palestinians are preparing for a variety of scenarios and they have intensified their defensive preparations, reinforcing positions and outposts.

Mofaz said that it is known that the Palestinian Authority has a large supply of small arms and added that there have also been unconfirmed reports of anti-tank missiles entering the Palestinian arsenal. He said that part of the PA's preparations for a possible conflict with the IDF involved training sessions for hundreds of teenagers.

The Chief of Staff also warned that there would be renewed trouble in southern Lebanon, both with the Hezbollah and the Palestinian opposition groups in the refugee camps there. Mofaz said that the Hezbollah is believed to be preparing kidnappings of IDF soldiers in an effort to exchange them with prisoners held in Israel, such as Mustafa Dirani and Sheikh Obeid.

However, military intelligence also believes that the Hezbollah has not yet made a final decision on whether to "heat" up the border with Israel. Analysts believe that the organization is being held back by Syria, which is interested in bolstering the recently elected Bashar Assad, and elements in Lebanon, concerned with the possible backlash of any action against Israel on the eve of elections there on August 27.

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