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(photo credit: AP)
Troops from the Nahal Brigade's elite Reconnaissance Battalion uncovered a bomb-making laboratory in the West Bank city of Nablus on Saturday.
The Central Command said that troops had discovered eight "terror labs" in the city since the beginning of the year.
Officers said five pipe bombs, two gas canisters, scrap metal used in bombs, and large quantities of explosives were found in the lab. The sources believe the lab belonged to Islamic Jihad, which has been responsible for most terrorist attacks originating in northern Samaria recently. On Wednesday, a would-be Islamic Jihad suicide bomber was caught in an apartment in Bat Yam, south of Tel Aviv, after entering Israel from northern Samaria.
Referring to last Monday's summit between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Jerusalem, military officials said the discovery of the terror lab proved that the Palestinians were "two-faced," and not sincere regarding a diplomatic process.
"Nablus is the main terror capital in the West Bank," one officer said. "They are persistently trying to send terrorists into Israel, without any consideration for the so-called diplomatic process."
Also on Friday, defense sources expressed satisfaction with an announcement that Egyptian authorities had confiscated a ton of explosives in the Sinai desert that was on its way to be smuggled into the Gaza Strip. In 2006, an estimated 30 tons of explosives were smuggled in to the Strip from Egypt.
Egyptian officials said the explosives, mostly TNT, were packed in 34 plastic sacks. Beduin trackers led security forces to the underground cache in Nagaa Shabanah, a village a few kilometers south of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza.
Israel has repeatedly accused Egypt of not doing enough to stop the smuggling of weapons into Gaza, particularly through tunnels. Most recently, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Yuval Diskin claimed that Egypt had "failed" to stop the trafficking.
On Thursday, Egyptian police said they captured three Palestinians armed with explosive belts who intended to attack vacation sites in Sinai frequented by Israelis. A total of 57 suspects have been detained, officials said.
Officials identified the would-be suicide bombers as Medhat el-Shair, Abdel Majid Abbas and Eyad Said. They said the three had confessed to being members of Islamic Jihad. The official said Shair was the ringleader, and that he had supervised the digging of a tunnel from Gaza to Egypt.
The Egyptian authorities discovered the tunnel on Wednesday and arrested the three Palestinians just after they had used it to enter Egypt.
AP contributed to this report.