The move comes amid calls by Palestinian groups in Judea, Samaria and Gaza to prepare for an "escalation" against Israel and follows statements by members of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party that their "fighters" in Lebanon are set to enter combat along with Hizbullah.
Palestinian groups, including Fatah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, maintain armed bases in Lebanon, mostly in the al-Naemeh province just south of Beirut and in the Bekaa Valley near Lebanon's border with Syria. The groups also have offices in Syria.
Israeli and Lebanese officials say the Palestinian groups have been provided over the years with rifles, ammunition, several kinds of long range rockets and antitank and antiaircraft missiles by Iran and Syria. Israel has previously bombed Popular Front bases following rocket attacks against the Jewish state it says were launched from the Palestinian group's military camps in Lebanon.
Weapons stored in Palestinian bases
The Palestinian groups in Lebanon earlier this year clashed with the Lebanese Army. A United Nations Resolutions demands Lebanon disarm "all militias," including armed Palestinian groups.
Lebanese officials tell WND the Palestinian groups in recent days passed heavy weaponry to Hizbullah. They said some of the weapons belonged to Hizbullah but were stored in Palestinian bases.
The officials also said they had information Palestinian camps in Lebanon were being used for Hizbullah training and that some Hizbullah members are still operating out of the camps.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Wednesday Israel has destroyed most of Hizbullah's bases, targeted much of Hizbullah's weapons arsenal and destroyed nearly two-thirds of the group's longer-range rockets.
IDF refrains from targeting Palestinian posts
Hizbullah is still thought to possess up to 10,000 more Katyusha rockets capable of hitting northern Israeli cities and hundreds of Zilzal and other kinds of longer range rockets that can target central Israel, including Tel Aviv. As well, security officials here say rockets continue to be smuggled into Lebanon from the country's border with Syria.
During its current military campaign against Hizbullah, Israel has largely refrained from hitting Palestinian bases in Lebanon.
Last week Sultan Abu al-Aynain, leader of Fatah in Lebanon, announced Palestinian gunmen in the country are set to join the fighting against Israel. He said Fatah has thousands of fighters in Lebanon who are prepared to participate in the fighting. It was unclear whether his comments were coordinated with Abbas.
'Victory over Israel'
WND reported yesterday Bani al-Hassan, a senior Abbas official, sent a letter to hundreds of Fatah members asking them to prepare for an "escalated battle" against Israel while the Jewish state continues its military campaign in Lebanon. The letter was also sent to members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror group, the declared "military wing" of Fatah.
"You the fighters are the new generation that will bring us victory over Israel," Hassan wrote in the letter, which was obtained by WND from a Fatah official.
He compelled Fatah members to "be prepared" for an escalation against the Jewish state but did not mention particulars or give specific instructions.
Later that day Hassan led a rally in Ramallah in which he reportedly informed participants he placed Fatah fighters on high alert "ahead of the possibility of escalation of the conflict in Lebanon, which could manifest itself in an escalation of Israeli actions (here)."
"I know what I'm talking about, and I know what I'm referring to," Hassan reportedly told the crowd.
Reprinted with permission of WorldNetDaily