US embassy cable - 95TELAVIV16873

HAMAS JAILBREAK: YOU CAN HIDE, BUT YOU CAN'T RUN

Identifier: 95TELAVIV16873
Wikileaks: View 95TELAVIV16873 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Tel Aviv
Created: 1995-10-23 15:56:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PTER PGOV PHUM PREL KPAL KWBG IS
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
O 231556Z OCT 95
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1662
INFO ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L TEL AVIV 016873 
 
 
DEPT FOR SMEC AND NEA/IAI 
 
E.O.  12356:  DECL:  10/23/05 
TAGS:  PTER, PGOV, PHUM, PREL, KPAL, KWBG, IS 
SUBJECT:  HAMAS JAILBREAK:  YOU CAN HIDE, BUT YOU CAN'T RUN 
 
1.  (U)  THREE HAMAS ACTIVISTS ESCAPED FROM THE MILITARY 
INTELLIGENCE WING OF GAZA CENTRAL PRISON OCTOBER 22.  TWO OF 
THEM, YUSEF MALAHI AND OSAMA ABU TAHA, HAD BEEN IMPLICATED IN 
LETHAL ATTACKS AGAINST ISRAELIS AND HAD BEEN SENTENCED TO 12 YEAR 
SENTENCES BY THE PALESTINIAN SECURITY COURT.  THE THIRD, IMAD 
AQIL, HAD BEEN ARRESTED WHILE ATTEMPTING TO CARRY OUT A SUICIDE 
ATTACK AGAINST AN ISRAELI SETTLEMENT IN GAZA.  AQIL TURNED 
HIMSELF INTO POLICE A LITTLE OVER 24 HOURS AFTER THE ESCAPE. 
 
NOWHERE TO RUN 
-------------- 
 
2. (C)  THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY (PA) ATTORNEY GENERAL KHALID AL 
QIDRAH TOLD POLOFF OCTOBER 23, (EVEN BEFORE AQIL TURNED HIMSELF 
IN) THAT A SEARCH AND INVESTIGATION WERE UNDERWAY AND HE DID NOT 
EXPECT THE TWO REMAINING ESCAPEES TO REMAIN AT LARGE FOR LONG. 
"GAZA IS SMALL AND THEY ARE WELL-KNOWN."  GAZA REUTERS CHIEF 
TAHER SHRITEH, WHO MAINTAINS CONTACTS WITH HAMAS MEMBERS, 
DISAGREED WITH AL QIDRAH ABOUT WHETHER ABU TAHA AND MALAHI COULD 
REMAIN AT LARGE FOR LONG.  CITING WANTED PALESTINIANS' ABILITY TO 
AVOID CAPTURE UNDER ISRAELI RULE, HE ADDED THAT EVEN TRAPPED IN 
GAZA, UNLESS THE TWO TURNED THEMSELVES IN, THE SEARCH COULD BE 
LENGTHY.  BOTH AL QIDRAH AND SHRITEH SAID THEY BELIEVED THAT SOME 
OF THE GUARDS WERE PROBABLY SYMPATHETIC TO HAMAS AND HELPED IN 
THE ESCAPE.  LOCAL MEDIA REPORTED THAT FIVE PA MILITARY 
INTELLIGENCE MEMBERS HAVE BEEN ARRESTED IN CONNECTION TO THE 
ESCAPE. 
 
GOI KEEPS AN OPEN MIND, BUT WARY OF PA/HAMAS INTENTIONS 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
 
3.  (C)  ARAB AFFAIRS ADVISOR SHALOM HARARI (PROTECT) TOLD POLOFF 
THAT THE GOI HAD NO "PROOF" THAT THERE WAS PA COLLUSION IN THE 
ESCAPE, OR EVEN THAT SENIOR OFFICIALS IN HAMAS SUPPORTED THE 
ESCAPE.  HE SAID THE GOI WOULD WATCH TO SEE HOW THE INCIDENT 
PLAYED OUT, BUT THE FACT WAS THAT SUCH THINGS HAPPEN.  HE 
RECALLED A 1987 PRISON BREAK BY FOUR ISLAMIC JIHAD TERRORISTS WHO 
ESCAPED FROM AN ISRAELI PRISON INSIDE GAZA.  "THEY JUMPED OVER 
TWO FENCES AFTER GETTING OUT OF THE PRISON!  IT HAPPENS." 
 
4.  (C)  ACCORDING TO HARARI, THE GOI REMAINS SUSPICIOUS BECAUSE 
ARAFAT IS AT SUCH A DELICATE POINT IN HIS NEGOTIATIONS.  THE 
CLOSURE ON GAZA WILL CONTINUE TO BE TIGHT BECAUSE ARAFAT HAS NOT 
REACHED FINAL AGREEMENT WITH HAMAS.  "THEY HAVE NOT DECIDED TO 
END ATTACKS AGAINST ISRAELIS."  ARAFAT IS MAINTAINING AN 
"EXTREMELY COMPLEX BALANCING ACT" AND THERE IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR 
HIM TO MISCALCULATE.  ON THE ONE HAND HE HAS THE GOI, THE USG AND 
PALESTINIAN PUBLIC OPINION WHICH NO LONGER SUPPORTS THE SUICIDE 
ATTACKS, AND ON THE OTHER THE STRATEGIC NEGOTIATIONS WITH HAMAS. 
FOR THESE NEGOTIATIONS HE MUST LOOSEN AS WELL AS TIGHTEN THE 
NOOSE AROUND HAMAS.  A MISTAKE ON THE STRENGTH OF THE NOOSE COULD 
LET AN ATTACK SLIP THROUGH. 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
5. (C)  HARARI WAS SURPRISINGLY CHARITABLE IN DESCRIBING ARAFAT'S 
NEED TO STRIKE A BALANCE BETWEEN TOUGHNESS AND FLEXIBILITY IN HIS 
DEALINGS WITH HAMAS.  THE DOMINANT AND AUTHORITATIVE ISRAELI 
POSITION AT THIS TIME, VOICED BY RABIN AND OTHERS IN THE POLICY 
LOOP, IS THAT ARAFAT'S SECURITY EFFORTS HAVE SLACKENED IN RECENT 
WEEKS AND THAT HE MUST DO BETTER IF HE WANTS THE CLOSURE LIFTED. 
 
 
INDYK 

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