US embassy cable - 96TELAVIV267

AFTERMATH OF HAMAS' YAHIYA AYYASH'S ASSASSINATION

Identifier: 96TELAVIV267
Wikileaks: View 96TELAVIV267 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Tel Aviv
Created: 1996-01-08 16:00:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL PHUM KWBG KPAL IS
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
O 081600Z JAN 96
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3277
INFO ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TEL AVIV 000267 
 
 
DEPT FOR NEA/IAI 
 
E.O. 12958:  01/08/06 
TAGS: PREL, PHUM, KWBG, KPAL, IS 
SUBJECT:  AFTERMATH OF HAMAS' YAHIYA AYYASH'S ASSASSINATION 
 
REF:  TEL AVIV 240 (NOTAL), 
 
1.  CLASSIFIED BY DCM 
JAMES LAROCCO FOR REASONS 1.5 (B) AND (D) 
 
GOI REACTION 
------------ 
 
1.  (U)  ALL MEDIA BANNERED THE CELLPHONE KILLING OF 
YAHIYA AYYASH.  THE PRESS GREETED AYYASH'S DEATH WITH 
STATEMENTS SUCH AS "ACCOUNT SETTLED.", "GOOD 
RIDDANCE", AND AN EYE FOR AN EYE."  "THE ELIMINATION 
OF AYYASH...OFFERS THE PRIME MINISTER MEANINGFUL 
DIVIDENDS IN THE DOMESTIC POLITICAL FRONT.  THE PRESS 
TAKES IT FOR GRANTED THAT ISRAEL WAS BEHIND THE 
KILLING.  FOR ITS PART, JERUSALEM HAS REFRAINED FROM 
ANY OFFICIAL COMMENT. 
 
2.  (U)  PUBLIC SECURITY MINISTER MOSHE SHAHAL TOLD 
IDF RADIO JANUARY 7 THAT HE BELIEVES IT IS IN THE 
PA'S INTEREST THAT THERE BE QUIET AND STABILITY IN 
THE PROCESS AND THAT THE TEST OF THE PA'S BECOMING A 
POLITICAL FRAMEWORK LIES IN ITS ABILITY TO IMPOSE LAW 
AND ORDER.  IN RESPONSE TO QUESTIONS ABOUT WHETHER 
THE PA COOPERATED IN THE KILLING, SHAHAL SAID: 
"...THE PALESTINIANS...SHARE AN INTEREST IN 
ELIMINATING TERROR....  IT IS ONLY NATURAL THAT 
SECURITY ELEMENTS SHOULD COOPERATE AND EXCHANGE 
INFORMATION." 
 
3.  (U)  ARAB MK'S CONDEMNED THE ASSASSINATION. 
SHAYKH ABDULLAH NIMR DARWISH, HEAD OF THE ISLAMIC 
MOVEMENT IN ISRAEL, CALLED THE KILLING A BLATANT 
VIOLATION OF THE PEACE ACCORDS, WHILE HADASH MK 
HASHEM MOHAMMAD CRITICIZED THE OPERATION SAYING "HE 
IS IN PRINCIPLE AGAINST ASSASSINATIONS NO MATTER WHAT 
THE VIEWS OF THE PERSON KILLED.  WE NEED TO CONSIDER 
WHERE IT WILL LEAD US." 
 
PA REACTION 
----------- 
 
4.  (U)   ARAFAT SPOKESMAN NABIL ABU RUDEINA STRONGLY 
CONDEMNED THE KILLING.  THE ISRAELI PRESS QUOTES A 
SENIOR PA OFFICIAL AS SAYING THE ASSASSINATION 
EMBARRASSED ARAFAT AND THAT THE PA WAS CONCERNED 
ABOUT THE EFFECTS ON THE UPCOMING ELECTIONS, AND THE 
PROSPECTS OF HAMAS RETALIATING. 
 
5.  (U)   MAJOR GENERAL ABDUL RAZZAQ AL MUJAYIDAH, 
FROM THE PA NATIONAL SECURITY FORCES, SAID THE PA 
STARTED AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE ASSASSINATION.  AS 
OF JANUARY 7, FIVE GAZANS HAD BEEN ARRESTED IN 
CONNECTION WITH THE KILLING.  ACCORDING TO AN 
OFFICIAL IN PA POLICE COMMANDER NASIR YUSIF'S OFFICE, 
SECURITY FORCES ARE ON HIGHER ALERT. 
 
HAMAS REACTION 
-------------- 
 
6.  (U)  IN ADDITION TO CALLING FOR REVENGE, HAMAS 
HAS ACCUSED THE PA OF COLLUDING WITH THE GOI IN THE 
ASSASSINATION.  HAMAS SPOKESMAN MAHMOUD ZAHAR HAS 
DENIED THAT OSAMA HAMMAD, "A SON OF HAMAS", (REPORTED 
TO HAVE BEEN INVOLVED WITH THE ASSASSINATION) WAS A 
SUSPECT IN CONNECTION WITH THE KILLING, OR THAT 
HAMMAD HAD FLED GAZA. 
 
ON THE GROUND 
------------- 
 
7.  (U)  IN THE AFTERMATH OF HAMAS' CALL FOR REVENGE 
AGAINST ISRAEL FOR THE ASSASSINATION OF YAHIYA AYYASH 
(THE ENGINEER), THE GOI HAS DECLARED ALL AREAS 
TRANSFERRED TO PALESTINIAN CONTROL CLOSED MILITARY 
AREAS INDEFINITELY.  ISRAEL T.V. REPORTED JANUARY 6 
THAT THE CLOSURE WAS EXPECTED TO LAST UNTIL JANUARY 
10 AT LEAST. 
 
8.  (C)  ACCORDING TO MATAK (THE OLD CIVAD), GAZANS 
CAN COME INTO GAZA, ISRAELIS CAN LEAVE GAZA, AND 
THIRD COUNTRY NATIONALS CAN MOVE BACK AND FORTH. 
EMBOFF SAW THESE MOVEMENTS IN ADDITION TO: 
 
--  VIP'S WITH MAGNETIC CARDS CAN GET IN AND OUT OF 
GAZA.  VIPS WITH PAPER PASSES, WAITING FOR THE 
PERMANENT MAGNETIC CARDS CANNOT. 
 
--  GOING TO THE RIDICULOUS,  THERE ARE FIFTY GAZAN 
TRUCKS WHICH, HAVING BEEN INSPECTED AND CLEARED BY 
THE ISRAELIS, REMAIN ON THE ISRAELI SIDE OF THE 
BORDER.  UNFORTUNATELY, THE DRIVERS OF THE TRUCKS 
CANNOT GET TO THEM BECAUSE THE DRIVERS DO NOT HAVE 
MAGNETIC CARDS.  ALTHOUGH SOME DRIVERS HAVE OFFERED 
TO SUBMIT TO A STRIP-SEARCH SO THAT THEY CAN GET TO 
WORK, THE IDF HAS REMAINED ADAMANT THAT THEY CANNOT 
LEAVE GAZA. 
 
--  THESE "STERILE" TRUCKS WERE PART OF A GOI 
INITIATIVE, IMPLEMENTED UNDER U.S. ENCOURAGEMENT, TO 
REDUCE THE IMPACT OF CLOSURE ON GAZA'S ECONOMY.  THE 
TRUCKS, ONCE CLEARED BY THE ISRAELI SECURITY, WERE TO 
BE FREE TO TRAVEL BETWEEN GAZAN-ISRAELI DESTINATIONS 
WITHOUT RE-ENTERING GAZA. 
 
--  TRUCK CONVOYS FROM GAZA TO ISRAEL CONTINUED 
WITHOUT INTERRUPTION IN SPITE OF THE CLOSURE.  QARNI 
BACK-TO-BACK TRADE ALSO CONTINUED. 
 
9.  (C)  CAMPAIGNING FOR THE JANUARY ELECTIONS WAS 
SUSPENDED FOR TWO DAYS, BUT RESUMED IN A "LOW 
PROFILE" WAY ACCORDING TO THE DEPUTY HEAD OF THE 
CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION IN GAZA.  HE ECHOED OTHER 
PALESTINIAN INTERLOCUTORS WHO CALLED THE TIMING OF 
THE ASSASSINATION "ATROCIOUS" FOR ELECTIONS.  HE DID 
NOT HOWEVER, BELIEVE IT WOULD HAVE A LONG-TERM 
ADVERSE EFFECT ON THE ELECTIONS--OTHER THAN TO 
INCREASE THE SYMPATHY VOTE FOR HAMAS AFFILIATED 
CANDIDATES. 
 
10. (C)  IN SPITE OF A THREE-DAY NATIONAL MOURNING 
PERIOD CALLED BY HAMAS, BUSINESSES IN GAZA REMAINED 
OPENED.  THE PA ATTORNEY GENERAL SAID THAT "ONLY THE 
PA COULD CALL FOR A NATIONAL STRIKE" AND AS 
PALESTINIANS ARE NO LONGER WAGING THE INTIFADA, SUCH 
A RESPONSE WOULD BE "INAPPROPRIATE." 
 
11.  (C)  HAMAS HAS COME UNDER CRITICISM FOR 
PROVIDING LAX SECURITY FOR AYYASH.  ABU ALI SHAHEEN, 
A LEADER OF THE SHABEBA (INTIFADA YOUTH) MOVEMENT 
(PROTECT) TOLD US THAT GAZANS WERE CRITICIZING HAMAS 
FOR NOT PROTECTING AYYASH WELL ENOUGH.  HE ADDED THAT 
SOME WERE EVEN SPECULATING THAT SOME HAMAS MEMBERS 
COLLUDED IN HIS KILLING BECAUSE AYYASH REMAINED A 
STAUNCH OPPONENT TO THE UPCOMING ELECTIONS. 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
12.  (C)  BASED ON OUR DISCUSSIONS WITH PALESTINIAN 
ELECTION WATCHERS IN GAZA, WE BELIEVE THAT THE 
ASSASSINATION WILL NOT HAVE LONG-TERM EFFECTS ON THE 
UPCOMING ELECTIONS,  THE TIMING OF HAMAS' RESPONSE, 
HOWEVER, MAY WELL HAVE. 
 
 
INDYK 

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