10 April 2002

Results of questioning of Palestinian detainees
(Communicated by the IDF Spokesman)

1. Details Concerning Two Detainees from the Palestinian Preventive Security Service in Bituniya

During an IDF raid on the headquarters of the Palestinian Preventive Security Service in Bituniya, a senior Hamas operative was arrested. He was directly responsible for committing a number of shooting attacks that killed tens of Israelis. In addition, an officer from the Palestinian Preventive Security Service (PPSS), who was also a Fatah operative, was arrested. He directed a terrorist cell that is responsible for a number attacks against a myriad of Israeli targets.

Salim Mahmoud Salim Haja, aged 30 from Nablus, is a senior figure in the Hamas organization in Judea and Samaria and responsible for the terrorist framework in northern Samaria. In addition, Salim served as a coordinator of activities between the Hamas infrastructure in Samaria and Ramallah.

In Nablus, Salim managed an explosives laboratory for the Hamas that was responsible for the suicide bombing of the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem.

Salim is also responsible for the suicide bombing near Haifa’s "Yad LeBanim." Salim was also an accomplice in executing the suicide bombing at Tel Aviv’s Dolphinarium disco.

Salim Haja was one of the Israeli security forces’ most wanted suspects, directly responsible for numerous terrorist bombings and the murder of tens of innocent civilians. His arrest foiled the continuation of his operations as a planner and executor of terrorist attacks.

An officer in the PPSS, Zafer Abdallah Juad Abdallah Rahman Rimawi, aged 26 from Beit Rima, admitted during his interrogation that he was inducted into a Fatah terrorist cell in early 2001 in order to carry out attacks against Israeli targets. The cell that he organized carried out a number of attacks in the area of the roads between Ateret and Neve Tzuf.

In addition, Zafer admitted to being in contact with senior Fatah and Force 17 operatives and being involved in attacks.

Zafer, who is personally responsible for a number of shooting attacks, also provided safe houses for cell members, consistently supplying them with weaponry, including Kalachnikov assault rifles and ammunition that he concealed with his cohort William el Hatib.

William, a Palestinian police specialist in weaponry, trained the cell members in shooting exercises. The terrorist cell Zafer established, with the cooperation of William, carried out the 18 March 2002 terrorist attack near Halamish that killed IDF officer Yair Nebentzahl and seriously injured his mother.

2. Results of the Investigation of a Senior Officer in the Palestinian Authority’s Military Intelligence arrested during IDF operations in Ramallah

Akram Kassam, a senior office in the Palestinian Authority’s Military Intelligence, came from Dir El-Balah in the Gaza Strip and lives in Ramallah. Upon the entry of the IDF into Ramallah, he was arrested by Israeli security forces.

During questioning, he said that in conjunction with his position in the Palestinian Authority, he also served as a Hamas activist and as a liaison for the Hamas between Judea & Samaria and the Gaza Strip.

Kassam added during his questioning that he was personally involved in the shooting of an Israel GMC truck on the Atara Bridge, which killed an Israeli civilian, as well as shooting attacks on a bus carrying soldiers and many other attacks.

Under the aegis of his being a liaison and Hamas operative, he received $12,000 from Hamas operatives in the Gaza Strip to establish a Hamas infrastructure in Judea and Samaria. In the framework of these activities, he proposed to a young boy from Ramallah to carry out a suicide bombing with an explosive belt, but the attack did not take place when the person delivering this explosive belt was killed in an exchange of fire with IDF forces.

Kassam added that he was able to video a number of these attacks and even pass the tapes on to other operatives. He was assisted in his nefarious work by several other cell operatives who wee also members of the Palestinian General Intelligence Service.

This is but another example of many instances where officers and senior operatives in the Palestinian Authority’s security services were also actively taking part in terrorist attacks against Israeli targets and even directly contributing to the murder of Israelis.

3. Exploitation of Women and Children by the Tanzim to carry out Suicide Attacks against Israel

A central Tanzim operative in Bethlehem, Yihiye Da’amsah planned to turn his 14 year old niece into a suicide bomber.

Upon the entry of IDF forces in Bethlehem, the 14 year old girl Shirin Ravia’a was called for questioning. The girl was brought in, with her father, based on intelligence information that she was planning to be a suicide bomber. In her testimony, Shirin provided details concerning her intention to be a suicide bomber, assisted by her uncle, Yihiye Da’amsah, a senior Tanzim operative in the area.

According to her testimony, her motivation for wanting to be a suicide bomber was the death of her nephew a few months earlier from an explosion during a "work accident" (a reference to terrorists killed when making explosive devices). Shirin, who refused to believe the circumstances of her relative’s death and instead blamed Israel, decided to commit suicide. She told her decision to her uncle, Yihiye Da’amsah, a known Tanzim activist who already was active in making explosive devices for that organization. Shirin asked him to recruit her into the Al Aqsa Brigades and Awiss agreed.

Over the course of March, after several months of no contact between Shirin and her uncle, Shirin was called by her school’s principal to the office, where Yihiye Da’amsah was waiting for her. He asked Shirin to recruit other girls to the Tanzim, claiming that the Tanzim was already using girls recruited to the organization. Shirin did her uncle’s bidding and approached two of her friends, aged 15, who refused her offer to recruit them into the Tanzim.

About a week after this, Shirin again met with Yihiye Da’amsah. He asked her if she was still ready to commit suicide. When she said she was still willing, he said he would give her an explosive belt and that she would have to find a way into Israel. When Shirin’s family found out her intentions, they pressured her not to go through with the suicide attack.

In yet another meeting between Shirin and her uncle Yihiye Da’amsah, he claimed that since the United States had recently declared the "El Aqsa Brigades" a terrorist organization, like the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, the organization decided to temporarily refrain from using women.

The same day, Shirin heard about the suicide attack by Ayat al-Akhras in Jerusalem, whom she did not know. During her questioning, Shirin expressed her opinion that the attack was not done well since only three civilians were killed. Shirin told her questioners that she no longer wants to commit suicide.

It should be noted that Shirin’s story is yet another example of earlier events where by terrorist groups approached women and girls to take part in the execution of terrorist attacks. They sought to exploit their more innocent continence, in order to reduce suspicion and facilitate their freer passage through Israeli checkpoints.

4. Results of the Questioning of a Fatah Operative Arrested in the Jenin Refugee Camp

Abd al Karim Aweis, from the Jenin refugee camp and a senior operative belonging to the Fatah, was a wanted suspect arrested during Operation Defensive Shield.

Aweis admitted during questioning that a number of days before his arrest, he was ordered by Tawfik Tirawi, head of the Palestinian General Intelligence Service, to Arafat’s Moukata compound in Ramallah. There, he was questioned about individuals suspected of planning to carry out suicide attacks in Israel. According to his testimony, Tirawi revealed to Aweis a list of 10 potential suspects for future suicide attacks. According to Tirawi, this list was originally provided by Israel.

Abd al Karim Aweis said that he was personally involved in arming a young suicide bomber from the Jenin refugee camp, dressing him in an explosive belt in preparation for a suicide attack in Israel. Aweis, with others, drove the bomber to Jerusalem, although the attack was not carried out after the youth was suspected by IDF soldiers at a checkpoint, though he succeeded in running away.

According to additional information, culled from the interrogation of others arrested during Defensive Shield and from captured documents, Tawfik Tirawi was clearly involved in the recruitment, preparation, arming and dispatch of terrorists to carry out attacks against Israeli targets.

The crass use made by Tawfik Tirawi, head of the Palestinian General Intelligence Service, of the intelligence received from Israel, information meant to be used by his organization to foil terrorist attacks, testifies as to the lack of any desire on the part of the Palestinian security services to take any actions against the terrorists. More than that, by his actions, Tirawi was able to abet the terrorists by warning them of potential Israeli moves against them.