Weapons transferred last week by Israel to Force 17, the presidential guard units of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, will be utilized for attacks against Jews, a senior member of Force 17 told WorldNetDaily in an exclusive interview Friday.
The terrorist, Abu Yousuf, hinted the weapons already were used in two shooting attacks the past few days that killed one Israeli civilian and wounded another.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced earlier this week he had approved a shipment of weapons and ammunition, which reportedly include over 370 assault rifles and were destined for Force 17. The shipment reportedly originated in Jordan and needed Israel's approval for transport.
Olmert said the shipment was meant to bolster security forces loyal to Abbas amid an increasingly violent power struggle between the PA president's Fatah party and Hamas, which won recent Palestinian parliamentary elections.
"I did this because we are running out of time and we need to help Abu Mazen," Olmert told reporters Tuesday.
The weapons reportedly were escorted by Israel to Ramallah and to the Gaza border where they were received by Force 17 members.
Weapons 'won't be used against brothers'
Abu Yousuf said the weapons will be fired at Israelis. "These weapons will not be used in an internal war but against Israelis," he said. "Force 17 is proud that we were the first to lead the Palestinian people during tough times such as resistance operations (against the Israeli army during large-scale operations in northern Samaria in 2002). We will also be the first to lead the Palestinians in the current struggle against Israeli occupation."
Several Force 17 members, including Yousuf, also are members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a terror group linked to Abbas' Fatah party responsible for scores of suicide bombings and shooting attacks.
Yousuf himself previously participated in anti-Israel terrorism, including recent shootings, attacks last month against Israeli forces operating in Ramallah and a shooting attack in northern Samaria in December 2000 that killed Benyamin Kahane, leader of the ultranationalist Kahane Chai organization.
After the Kahane murder, Yousuf was extended refuge by Yasser Arafat to live in the late PLO leader's Ramallah compound, widely known as the Muqata. Yousuf still lives in the compound.
Abbas earlier this week appointed Mahmoud Damra to head Force 17. Damra, who is on Israel's most wanted list of terrorists, was offered shelter in Arafat's compound in Ramallah in 2002 after Israel accused him of masterminding a string of terrorist attacks.
Israeli security officials say that since September 2000, Damra has led a terror cell based in Ramallah that has carried out deadly attacks, including shootings at Israeli vehicles, attacks against Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and the planting of roadside bombs.
Yousuf told WorldNetDaily Israel transferred the weapons to his Force 17 unit "for its own political purposes. We are not concerned with the reasons. The weapons will not be used against our brothers, only (against) Israelis."
Rifles already employed for terror
Sources close to the al-Aqsa Brigades told WND assault rifles transferred by Israel to Force 17 already were used in two separate anti-Israel shooting attacks in recent days. One attack killed a 35-year-old Israeli Arab on a major West Bank highway on the outskirts of Jerusalem this past Sunday. Israeli security officials say the shooters likely mistook the victim for a Jew. The second attack, which occurred Tuesday on the same highway, lightly wounded an Israeli.
Yousuf refused to confirm whether Israeli weapons were used in the recent spate of highway shootings, but he hinted the information was accurate. He told WND members of al-Aqsa Brigades live with him in the Muqata and that "resistance tools" are shared regularly.
Reproduced with permission from WorldNetDaily