November 19, 2002
In the pre-dawn Monday raid, IDF helicopters and tanks hit Gaza City for
several hours. Gunships first fired missiles at the headquarters compound of the
Preventative Security service, then tanks shelled buildings, some of which
caught fire, witnesses said.
The raid turned up anti-tank missiles, grenades and other weapons, Israeli
officials said Monday, proving Palestinian security forces were supplying
weapons to militant groups for attacks on Israelis.
After the three-hour raid left the compound in ruins, Palestinians said the offices
were evacuated a year ago and that Israeli claims of finding a weapons factory
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said the raid showed the “tight connection
between the security forces of the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian
The commander of the IDF’s Gaza Division Brig. Gen. Yisrael Ziv said Israeli
forces had decided to strike the complex following the recent arrest of a top
official, Yusuf Mukdad, on suspicion of planning attacks against Israelis. After
the arrest, he said, “it became clear that they produced a large amount of
weaponry and gave them to Islamic Jihad and Hamas and others.”
Rashid Abu Shabak, head of preventive security in Gaza, toured the remains of
the demolished compound Monday and denied it was a weapons factory.
“Every Palestinian security [compound] has its own garage to fix cars and if
[they] consider this garage a factory to produce weapons, this is nothing new,”
In an unusually strongly-worded statement, Ziv said Monday that the Palestinian
Authority’s Preventative Security Service in Gaza – set up by peace agreements
to block terrorist acts aimed at Israel – has itself become a “terrorist
Ziv told Israel Radio that throughout the more than two years of the Palestinian
uprising, “We’ve had reports that the organization was involved with terrorism.
Arrests carried out recently and the operation overnight have ‘signed on’ these
reports with solid evidence that instead of blocking terrorism, the organization
initiates and manufactures terrorism.”
Ziv declined to discuss the possible role of senior Palestinian figure and former
peace negotiator Mohammed Dahlan, who until recently headed the
Preventative Security Service in the Gaza Strip.
But he added that “there’s no doubt that over past two years, people in the
organization were engaged in manufacturing and distributing weaponry and
even actively participated in terror attacks along with the Islamic Jihad and the
Secret paper shows PA running explosives plant
Ha’aretz, November 24, 2002
The Palestinian Authority’s Preventive Security Organization in the Gaza Strip
has set up a factory for producing large quantities of nitric acid, the most
important chemical in making explosives, according to a secret PA document
seized in an IDF raid last week.
It appears that the factory was set up to bypass the obstacles facing militant
organizations in producing or acquiring explosives. Most of the chemicals used
by the Palestinians to produce homemade explosives are acquired from Israel.
However, in recent weeks the Palestinians have managed to produce explosives
with an efficiency near that of military-grade materials.
During an IDF operation in the Gaza Strip last Sunday, a document was seized
in the Preventive Security Organization’s headquarters in Tel al-Hiweh
describing the setting up of the factory as a “strategic project.” The document,
classified by the organization as “secret,” was addressed to the deputy head of
preventive security in Gaza, Rasheed Abu Shubak.
An analysis of the document revealed that the plant’s annual production
capacity of nitric acid was to have reached 15 tons. Successful production at
such levels could lead to the production of military grade explosives, such as
TNT or RDX.
Israeli defense analysts pointed out that the Preventive Security Organization
intended to provide all the Palestinian militant organizations, including those
opposed to Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, with explosives.
Similarly, the PA provides arms to the organizations, among them Hamas.
One of the most serious failures in the IDF’s confrontation with the Palestinians
has been the smuggling across the Green Line of chemicals used in the
production of explosives that are used for suicide bombings. The Palestinian
militant organizations suffer from a shortage of military-grade explosives.
According to the Oslo Accords, acquiring or producing such explosives is
On occasion, the groups have managed to acquire small quantities of TNT by
dismantling mines purchased from Bedouin who have found them in the Sinai.
The militant groups solved the problem when it was discovered that chemicals
normally found in fertilizers are used to produce homemade explosives. The
chemicals include nitric acid – the “bottleneck” of explosives production – urea
nitrate, nitroglycol and nitroglycerin. These chemicals are not produced in the
territories, while some are manufactured in Israel and others are imported.
More than a year after the outbreak of the intifada, an order was issued
forbidding the importation of nitric acid to the Palestinian territories. However,
smuggling of the chemical from Israel continued with ease.
The IDF has repeatedly urged various ministries to enforce strict
regulations on the sale to the territories of chemicals used in the production of
explosives. These regulations include identifying the buyer and justifying the
final purpose for the materials and the reason for requiring such large quantities
of chemicals. Nonetheless, no thorough measures have been implemented, and
the production of the explosives has continued unabated.
The document seized last week was signed by an employee of the Palestinian
Authority’s Agriculture Ministry, Mohammed Anwar Bardawil (Abu Hashem). He
is known to have assisted the chief sapper of the Preventive Security
Organization, Talal Mahisan, who has links to the Islamic Jihad.
Bardawil noted in the document that “in view of the importance of the acid
[nitric acid] for the production of strategic materials, and in view of the
difficulties in acquiring them under the current conditions, and in line with your
request that this be available, I recommend the factory for its production.”
He also pointed out the “secondary nature” of the expenses involved, primarily
the large consumption of electricity, which is supplied by Israel, “since the
factory is strategic.”
Bardawil said that “in order to retain the secrecy of the project, I recommend
that they [the workers] will not be identifiable as belonging to the Preventive
Security Organization, and that I determine the qualifications required for this