Sunday, July 15, 2001
Israel planning month-long offensive against PA, report says


LONDON - The Israeli army will seek to destroy the Palestinian Authority's fighting forces in a massive month-long offensive to start after the next major suicide bombing, according to a British newsletter.

The PA is said to be increasingly concerned by such reports.

"Estimated Israeli casualties would be in their hundreds; Palestinian losses would be in their thousands," Jane's Foreign Report said, citing a source it said had seen the alleged plan by Israeli hardline generals.

"By the end of the operation, the generals reckon that the President of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat, would have been forced to leave the West Bank or Gaza Strip," said the newsletter, which specializes in intelligence matters, noting the aim was to force into exile or kill Arafat's close circle.

"The 40,000-strong Palestinian armed forces would be disarmed and either dead or held in detention camps," it added.

The report said the reason that Israel would wait until the next large-scale suicide bomb attack was that it would motivate the soldiers to be unflinching in their thirst for revenge.

The Israeli operation would be initiated by heavy F-16 and F-15 air raids - possibly preceded by an artillery barrage - on all the main Palestinian Authority command and control centers in Gaza and Ramallah.

Up to 30,000 paratroops, infantry and armored brigades would then quickly move in, with losses expected at up to 1 percent, or 300 men.

The report said it expected international condemnation but that Syria, Jordan and Egypt would stay out of the fight.

The only serious threat, it believed, might come from the Iraqi army, which might try moving through Jordan to support the embattled Palestinians.

However, it said the generals felt confident that Israeli jets could take care of that potential threat.