Shin Bet Chief: Palestinians Too 'Exhausted' for New Intifada

Diskin tells Knesset that failure of Annapolis meet may motivate terror attacks, but not with intensity of Oct. 2000 intifada.

Head of the Shin Bet security service Yuval Diskin said Monday that Israel need not expect a wave of terror reminiscent of the October 2000 intifada in response to the upcoming peace summit in the U.S., even if the summit is deemed a failure.

Speaking at the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting, Diskin said that "the high expectations and possible failure of the summit could definitely spark high motivation for terror attacks [among Palestinian militants], but not with the intensity of the terror wave of October 2000." He added that he believes that the Palestinian public is exhausted and lacks leadership.

Diskin expressed his resolute objection to handing the responsibility for security in the West Bank over to Palestinian security forces. He said that the Palestinian forces are also aware of their inability to maintain security in the West Bank.

The Shin Bet chief explained to the committee members that if the Palestinians had had control over the security in the area during recent years, "a network of rockets would have been established, sporadic attacks would have begun and the strategic and financial damage to Israel's security would have been dramatic."

Diskin harshly criticized the delays in the completion of the West Bank separation fence, meant to prevent terrorists from infiltrating Israeli territory. He said that almost all the would-be terrorists attempting to carry out attacks on Israeli soil over the past year had entered Israel with ease through large holes and breaches in the barrier around Jerusalem. In other instances, he added, the fence had proven to be effective in preventing attacks.

In regard to the delay in erecting a fence in southern Gaza, Diskin remarked "we at the Shin Bet believe that there is an urgent need to complete it. The fence could contribute a lot to Israel's security."

Diskin also said that operations to fortify Gaza structures and build underground bunkers were well underway in the Strip, and that the operations also include the digging of tunnels and planting of land mines. "They are under the impression that Israel is planning to invade," he said.

He added that the Hamas forces now include 15,000 trained and armed individuals "and there is a move to organize a military-like structure, with defined units, military communications and martial arts training."

Diskin also told the committee that the millitant group Hamas has smuggled 70 tons of explosives into the Gaza Strip since it seized control of the coastal territory in June, Diskin said Monday.

Hamas is persistently increasing its arsenal in Gaza, Diskin said according to minutes of the meeting.

Israel has pressed Egypt to crack down on the smuggling, which Israeli security says increased dramatically after Hamas' takeover of Gaza.

Reacting, Abu Obeida of the Hamas military wing called the Israeli claims lies. He said Hamas has more than 70 tons of explosives, but they originate in Gaza itself and were not smuggled in. He said the Israeli charge may be an introduction to a large aggression on our people in Gaza and create tensions with Egypt.