The quality of weapons being smuggled into Gaza has declined significantly since
January’s assassination of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai, Shin Bet
(Israel Security Agency) chief Yuval Diskin told the cabinet on
Mabhouh, who was reportedly responsible for smuggling Iranian
arms into the Gaza Strip, was killed in a Dubai hotel room in
IDF foils attempted terror attack at Gaza border fence
Analysis: Was Mabhouh worth it?
Although Israel was widely blamed for the assassination,
Jerusalem never claimed responsibility.
Meanwhile on Sunday, IDF troops
foiled a supposed terrorist attack along the security fence in northern Gaza.
The soldiers spotted a number of suspicious figures trying to fire a
rocket-propelled grenade at the force deployed along the border. The soldiers
shot the suspects, killing three.
Earlier on Sunday, the IDF detected a
number of people who had also approached the security fence in the area, and
fired several warning shots.
Despite the IDF assertion that the suspects
were planning to fire an RPG at the soldiers, Palestinians claimed that the dead
men were shepherds, with two identified as 91-yearold Ibrahim Abu Said and his
grandson Ismail Abu Odeh, 21.
Diskin warned that the country is on the
brink of a period of increased terrorism as Hamas and others try to torpedo the
recently relaunched diplomatic process.
The gradual but continuous
decline in terrorism in the West Bank over the past three years, and an
accompanying decline in terrorism originating from Gaza over the last 18 months,
is about to end, Diskin said, in the first security briefing he has given the
full cabinet in more than a year.
Based on the recent attacks, as well as
concrete intelligence information, Diskin said the threat of terrorism will
increase in lockstep with the progress in the peace talks with the
Diskin said that since Hamas did not have an organized
command center in Judea and Samaria, it was largely working through Hamas
operatives inside Israeli jails, who were activating prisoners who recently
returned to the West Bank.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said this
was one of the major concerns facing Israel in regard to a possible major
prisoner swap for kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit. The Shin Bet’s estimation,
Netanyahu said, was that if the security prisoners were released back to the
West Bank, they would carry out attacks both in Judea and Samaria and within the
Diskin said it was almost certain that Hamas was responsible
for recent rocket attacks from Sinai on Eilat and Aqaba, and that those
responsible for the attacks most likely had exited Gaza through the smuggling
tunnels into Sinai. While Hamas was interested in curbing attacks from Gaza, it
had no such compunction regarding attacks originating from Sinai, he
The clashes along the Gaza border on Sunday came after a weekend
marked by intensifying rocket fire into Israel. On Thursday, a Kassam rocket and
a mortar shell hit in Israel, and in response the air force bombed a number of
targets throughout the Strip.
Those targets included Hamas offices in
Gaza City, a smuggling tunnel on the Sinai border and what was described as a
“terror center” in the northern Strip.
On Friday, a number of Kassam
rockets again struck Israel without causing damage. Two rockets hit a field near
Sderot again on Sunday morning.
On Monday, three explosions were heard
near a kibbutz in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, which borders Gaza, a
local authority spokeswoman said.
No injuries or damage were
The Color Red rocket-alert system was not activated. It was not
immediately clear whether the explosions were caused by mortar shells or
Defense officials said the IDF was likely to continue its policy
of responding to rocket attacks with pinpointed air strikes but would not raise
the response to the level of a large ground operation inside Gaza.
with the peace talks starting, it is unlikely that the response will escalate,”
one defense official said.
The officials said, however, that if the
violence escalated, Israel would be forced to adjust its military response
Diskin also said that there has been an increase in the
number of tunnels being dug between Sinai and Gaza, and that these tunnels were
not only meant to smuggle goods and weapons, but were also “attack tunnels”
designed for kidnappings and attacks inside Israel.
He also said that,
with the financial support and other assistance from Iran, Islamic Jihad was
gaining strength inside the Gaza Strip.
Netanyahu said this underlined
one of Israel’s key problems: When it gives up territory, that territory is
taken over by Iranian allies, who then smuggle in weapons and use the territory
as a base to attack Israel.
Regarding the Palestinian Authority security
apparatus, Diskin said it was demonstrating a great deal of “motivation” and
“determination” in preventing attacks, including arresting hundreds of Hamas
Diskin said that the PA security apparatus was perhaps at the
strongest point it has been in 16 years, thanks primarily to assistance coming
from the US and the international community.
There was no longer any
evidence of the “revolving door” policy that existed in the West Bank in the
past, where the PA would report about arrests of Hamas activists, only to soon
release, Diskin said.Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.
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