US embassy cable - 95JERUSALEM2191

IDF KILLS WANTED HAMAS ACTIVIST IN HEBRON

Identifier: 95JERUSALEM2191
Wikileaks: View 95JERUSALEM2191 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Consulate Jerusalem
Created: 1995-06-30 15:34:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PHUM KISL KWBG IS
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
O 301534Z JUN 95
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8083
INFO AMEMBASSY AMMAN 
AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 
AMEMBASSY CAIRO 
AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS 
AMEMBASSY TUNIS 
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 JERUSALEM 002191 
 
 
E.O. 12356: DECL:  OADR 
TAGS:  PHUM, KISL, KWBG, IS 
SUBJECT: IDF KILLS WANTED HAMAS ACTIVIST IN HEBRON 
 
REF: A.) JERUSALEM 2175; B.) JERUSALEM 1350; C.) 
JERUSALEM 1357; D.) JERUSALEM 1855 
 
1.  CONFIDENTIAL - ENTIRE TEXT. 
 
2.  SUMMARY.  A WANTED HAMAS IZZ ED-DIN AL-QASSAM 
CELL MEMBER, TAHIR QAFISHA, WAS AMBUSHED AND SHOT 
DEAD BY AN UNDERCOVER UNIT OF THE ISRAELI BORDER 
POLICE JUNE 29 AT THE NORTHERN ENTRANCE TO HEBRON. 
TWO HOMES IN WHICH QAFISHA ALLEGEDLY HID WERE 
DEMOLISHED, AS WELL AS A STABLE AND MORE THAN 100 
TREES IN THE AREA (REFTEL A).  ISRAELI MILITARY 
SOURCES SAID QAFISHA WAS THE LAST KNOWN MEMBER OF A 
HEBRON IZZ ED-DIN AL-QASSAM CELL ALLEGEDLY 
RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MURDER OF AT LEAST SIX ISRAELIS 
IN DRIVE-BY SHOOTINGS OVER THE PAST YEAR.  THE 
DEMOLITIONS HAVE ANGERED HEBRONITES, WHO REMAIN 
UNDER CURFEW AS A RESULT OF THE OPERATION.  END 
SUMMARY. 
 
3.  ACCORDING TO PRESS REPORTS, AN UNDERCOVER UNIT 
OF THE ISRAELI BORDER POLICE ACTING ON INTELLIGENCE 
INFORMATION SURROUNDED A HOUSE AT THE NORTHERN 
ENTRANCE OF HEBRON AT 3:30 AM JUNE 29 IN WHICH 
WANTED HAMAS ACTIVIST TAHIR QAFISHA WAS REPORTEDLY 
HIDING.  HEBRONITES SAID AN ISRAELI HELICOPTER 
HOVERED OVER THE AREA SHINING A SEARCH LIGHT AS THE 
OPERATION WAS CONDUCTED.  IDF SOURCES SAID QAFISHA 
REFUSED TO SURRENDER.  IT IS UNCLEAR WHO FIRED 
FIRST, BUT SHOOTING BROKE OUT BETWEEN THE SOLDIERS 
AND QAFISHA, WHO SERIOUSLY WOUNDED A SOLDIER IN THE 
HEAD BEFORE HE WAS SHOT DEAD AS HE TRIED TO BREAK 
THROUGH THE CORDON OF SOLDIERS SURROUNDING HIM. 
 
4.  ALTHOUGH THE OPERATION WAS OVER BY 5:30 AM, 
ACCORDING TO UNRWA SOURCES, THE SOLDIERS CONTINUED 
TO SWEEP THE AREA FOR ADDITIONAL SUSPECTS MANY 
HOURS AFTER.  PRESS FOOTAGE SHOWED SOLDIERS COMBING 
ORCHARDS AND BEATING AN UNARMED MAN AS THEY TOOK 
HIM AWAY FOR QUESTIONING.  THE TWO HOUSES IN WHICH 
QAFISHA REPORTEDLY HID--OWNED BY THE FAMILIES OF 
UTHMAN AL-FALAH AND MUHAMMAD DANHASH--WERE HIT WITH 
MISSILES AND THEN BULLDOZED.  THE FAMILY MEMBERS 
WERE REPORTEDLY EVICTED WEARING ONLY THEIR NIGHT 
CLOTHES AND WERE FORBIDDEN TO TAKE ANYTHING WITH 
THEM.  A STABLE FILLED WITH SHEEP BELONGING TO THE 
DANHASH FAMILY WAS ALSO HIT WITH MISSILES AND THEN 
BULLDOZED, AND A NEARBY GROVE OF ABOUT 100 GRAPE 
VINES WERE PLOWED UNDER. 
 
5.  ACCORDING TO PRESS, THE HEBRON AREA COMMANDER 
SAID DESTROYING THE HOMES AND TREES WAS STANDARD 
PRACTICE BECAUSE THE TROOPS SUSPECTED MORE GUNMEN 
COULD BE HIDING THERE.  THE FALAH AND DANHASH 
FAMILIES REJECTED THAT, SAYING THEIR HOMES WERE NOT 
HIT WITH MISSILES UNTIL QAFISHA WAS CONFIRMED TO BE 
DEAD AND HIS BODY WAS TAKEN AWAY.  THEY TOLD ARAB 
JOURNALISTS THAT QAFISHA WAS NEVER IN THEIR HOMES 
BUT WAS INSTEAD SLEEPING IN THE VINEYARD. 
ACCORDING TO UNRWA SOURCES JUNE 30, HEBRON IS STILL 
CLOSED AND UNDER CURFEW. 
 
6.  IDF SOURCES TOLD THE PRESS THAT QAFISHA WAS THE 
LAST KNOWN REMAINING MEMBER OF A HEBRON MAMAS CELL 
THAT WAS ALLEGEDLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEATHS OF AT 
LEAST SIX ISRAELIS IN DRIVE-BY SHOOTINGS IN HEBRON 
OVER THE PAST YEAR AS WELL AS THE WOUNDING OF 
SEVERAL SOLDIERS IN SHOOTING ATTACKS ON VEHICLES 
AND THE ATTEMPTED KIDNAPPING OF A SETTLER.  THE 
FOUR OTHER KNOWN CELL MEMBERS WERE TRACKED DOWN AND 
KILLED IN TWO SEPARATE OPERATIONS BY UNDERCOVER 
ISRAELI SECURITY UNITS OVER THE PAST TWO MONTHS 
(REFTELS B, C AND D).  ACCORDING TO PRESS, MILITARY 
SOURCES ESTIMATE TWO OTHER MAMAS CELLS WITH A TOTAL 
OF FIVE MEMBERS ARE STILL AT LARGE IN HEBRON. 
 
7.  COMMENT.  THE IDF OPERATION, ESPECIALLY THE 
DEMOLITION OF TWO HOMES, HAS CREATED ANGER IN 
HEBRON WHERE THE POPULATION IS ALREADY CRITICAL OF 
THE PEACE PROCESS AND SEES LITTLE CHANCE FOR ANY 
IMPROVEMENT IN THEIR SITUATION IN THE NEAR TERM. 
ALTHOUGH UNDERCOVER KILLINGS OF THE OTHER MEMBERS 
OF THIS CELL DID NOT PROVOKE A RETALIATORY ATTACK 
BY MAMAS MEMBERS--PROBABLY AS A RESULT OF HEAVY 
PRESSURE FROM THE PA TO STOP ATTACKS AND PUBLIC 
AVERSION TO SUCH ATTACKS--ONE CAN NOT RULE OUT A 
RETALIATORY ATTACK AGAINST ISRAELIS AT THIS 
CRITICAL TIME, ON THE EVE OF WHAT MANY PALESTINIANS 
CONSIDER TO BE A DEADLINE, NOT A TARGET DATE, FOR A 
REDEPLOYMENT AGREEMENT. 
 
8.  COMMENT CONTINUED.  ALTHOUGH THE IDF CLAIMED 
THAT QAFISHA REFUSED TO SURRENDER--AND HE HAS 
CLEARLY ARMED AND APPARENTLY SHOT A 
SOLDIER--ISRAELI UNDERCOVER UNITS ON OPERATIONS TO 
FIND WANTED MEN HAVE GENERALLY MADE LITTLE ATTEMPT 
TO ARREST OR BRING TO TRIAL THEIR TARGETS.  THE 
FOUR OTHER ALLEGED MEMBERS OF THIS MAMAS CELL, FOR 
EXAMPLE, WERE ALL KILLED ON SITE EVEN THOUGH SOME 
WERE UNARMED. 
 
 
ABINGTON 

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