Mahmoud Abbas

JERUSALEM – The declared “military wing” of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party today took credit for rockets fired into Israel, vowed to break a Gaza cease-fire and told WND U.S. financial aid pledged yesterday for Fatah security forces will be used to “attack the Zionists.”

“Even if the American money and weapons reach only members of Fatah who are not involved in the resistance, it will find its way to the Palestinian resistance and be utilized for attacks against the Zionists,” said Abu Ahmed, the northern Gaza commander of Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror group.

Abu Ahmed was referring to $59 million the Bush administration announced yesterday it will send to strengthen Fatah security forces.

“This money is an attempt to generate civil war between Hamas and Fatah and to buy off Fatah. But we will never leave the political line of Yasser Arafat, who would not give up even one inch of Palestine,” charged Abu Ahmed.

The terror leader said the infighting between Fatah and Hamas “was over.”

“Now there are only a few dozens who want it to continue, so maybe there will be localized infighting but we will not fall into this Zionist-American conspiracy of civil war,” he said.

The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a branch of Fatah, is responsible for scores of shootings and rocket firings, and together with the Islamic Jihad terror group has taken responsibility for every suicide bombing in Israel the last two years, including an attack in Tel Aviv last April that killed eight Israelis and American teenager Daniel Wultz.

Earlier today, seven rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip aimed at nearby Jewish communities.

Abu Ahmed told WND his group fired two of the projectiles while the other five were launched by Islamic Jihad. He said the two rockets fired today were “dedicated to Yasser Arafat.”

Abu Ahmed claimed his group launched the rockets in response to “Israeli threats to the Al Aqsa Mosque and criminal Israeli operations in the West Bank against our fighters.”

The Jewish state is not threatening the Al Aqsa Mosque. The Israel Defense Forces the past two weeks carried out a series of anti-terror operations in the northern West Bank aimed primarily at arresting Brigades members.

Abu Ahmed said if the Israeli raids continue “there will be no more cease-fire, and you can count of a large string of suicide bombings and rocket attacks.”

In November, Israel agreed to a truce with Gaza militants in which the Jewish state vowed to suspend anti-terror operations in the Gaza Strip in exchange for quiet. Since then, more than 170 rockets have been fired from Gaza, but the IDF has been restrained from operating in the territory.

Abu Ahmed’s threats come as the Bush administration announced plans to ask Congress to approve $59 million for Fatah forces. The U.S. said the bulk of the new aid package – $43.4 million – will be used to strengthen Abbas’ Force 17 presidential guard units.

According to the announcement, the sum includes $14.5 million for “basic and advanced training,” $23 million for equipment, $2.9 million to upgrade the guard’s facilities and $3 million to provide “capacity building and technical assistance” to the office of Mahmoud Dahlan, Fatah’s strongman in Gaza.

The Bush administration in January pledged $86.4 million to strengthen the Fatah forces, including Force 17, Abbas’ security detail, which also serves as de facto police units in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

At the time, Abu Yousuf, a Fatah militant from Abba’s Force 17 security forces, told WND U.S. funds and weapons being transferred to his group would be utilized to “hit the Zionists.”

Many Fatah security members from Force 17 are also openly members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. All Brigades leaders are members of Fatah.

WND reported Israel earlier this month arrested 18 Fatah fighters in the West Bank wanted for shootings against Israeli civilians. Seventeen of those arrested were also members of the Brigades, Israeli and Palestinian security officials said.

Abbas last June appointed senior Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades leader Mahmoud Damra as commander of Force 17. Damra, who was arrested by Israel in November, was on the Jewish state’s most-wanted list of terrorists.

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