bethlehem rockets 224 88.
(photo credit: Channel 2)
Palestinian Authority security forces from Bethlehem transferred two metal pipes to Israel on Wednesday which they believed were intended to be used in the production of Kassams. The rockets, Palestinian security officials speculated, were to be fired at the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo.
Palestinian security forces had discovered the pipes, along with a small amount of explosives and a briefcase with documents, in an area between Bethlehem's El Aida refugee camp and the village of Beit Jala, which is situated on the hill opposite Gilo.
The Palestinian news agency Ma'an said that the "rockets" were one-and-a-half meters long, but IDF sources said that they were standard metal pipes that were not suitable for use as Kassam rockets.
Sources in the IDF's Central Command said they were not surprised that Palestinian terror groups were trying to develop and manufacture Kassam rockets in the West Bank. Two years ago, a Tanzim cell in Bethlehem was caught in the process of laying infrastructure for the production of the homemade rockets. And during the Second Lebanon War, Palestinian terrorists tried to launch a homemade rocket from Tulkarm but failed.
"Terrorists in the West Bank are trying to copy their Gaza counterparts," a security official said. "The only difference is that the IDF has a tight grip on the West Bank and succeeds, most of the time, in foiling these plans."
Palestinian intelligence head Tawfiq Tarawi said the so-called rockets were still in the early stage of production and had not yet been fitted with explosives. Tarawi would not say whether any arrests had been made. He also declined to say who built them, but said the weapons resembled the rockets developed by Hamas and other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip.
"This is not the first time. Two months ago we found similar rockets and we destroyed them," Tarawi said. "This is unacceptable. We will not allow anyone to use such missiles because he will be destroying the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian towns."
IDF officials praised the conduct of the PA security forces which discovered the pipes and immediately contacted the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria to hand them over. The defense officials said that compared to other West Bank cities, terrorists in Bethlehem were not allowed to operate freely since the PA was afraid that terrorism would harm the strong tourism industry in the city.