Discouraging report from West Bank: the IDF operation that encircled two major Al Aqsa Martyrs` Brigade bad guys in the Balata refugee camp near Nablus has failed to capture either.
Ala Senakreh may not have been inside when the IDF teams closed the circle. (This is a roughly built, ramshackle neghborhood of concrete-poured dwellings, one family unit atop another, roofs and half-basements connected by narrow, often internal ladders: it is deliberately constructed to make pursuit and capure of residents most difficult.) Ala Senakreh is the Al Aqsa leader in Nablus, where the cells are recruiting and arming the next waves of suicide belt bombers for the Third Intifadeh.
Worse news: Abu Aziz, deputy comander Al Aqsa on the West Bank, was able to escape through the IDF cordon. This underlines how difficult it is to trap a gang leader in the camps, where he is provided total support by the beleaguered residents. It also illustrates the limits of IDF special operations. The IDF is the best in the counerterror business, after decades of practice, and here is a case study how the IDF cannot grab a completely well-known and shoot-to-kill enemy leader even when they have both the advantage of surprise, and superior force and firezone area control.
Last eve, while the siege continued, I spoke with a West Bank op, Mohammed by name, who identified himself as International Solidarity Movement, which is a terror support group: he described how his teams had been working to get food and water into the siege site for several days (this was a seventy-two-hour operation). What I learned from Mohammed by name is that there are no certainties to operations on the West Bank: all is fog of war.
I have asked my Jerusalem source to ask Abu Aziz (whom I spoke with on Monday 13 February) back on the air for next week, to hear from him in Arabic how he escaped the IDF trap. Abu Aziz is convincing, potent, articulate, ruthless, charismatic, as dangerous a man as there is on the planet. Abu Aziz knows that he is expendable and doomed. Nonetheless, Abu Aziz’s devotion to the destruction of Israel and the Jews in Palestine is the genuine voice of the enemy.
(No word on the fate of the downed UAV and its camera, film, contents.)