pro hizbullah rally gaza.
(photo credit: AP)
Palestinian terror cells operating in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in conjunction with Hizbullah are under orders by the Lebanese-based terror group to escalate their attacks against Israel, a high-ranking IDF officer has told The Jerusalem Post.
On Sunday, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fired two Grad-type Katyusha rockets at Israel, just hours before a UN-brokered cease-fire went into effect bringing 34 days of hostilities between Israel and Hizbullah to an end. Since the cease-fire went into effect in the North, there has been an increase in the number of Kassam rockets fired at Israel. On Thursday, several IDF jeeps were attacked by Palestinian terrorists as they patrolled the Gaza Strip security fence.
"There is an effort to step up attacks within the Palestinian territories now that there is a cease-fire in the North," the high-ranking officer said. "Hizbullah is trying to activate their cells in Gaza and the West Bank and to ensure that Israel is still under attack even if they have stopped their rocket fire in the North."
But despite the slight escalation, the IDF did not plan to begin transferring troops from the North back to the West Bank or the Gaza Strip and would keep most of its ground forces along the Lebanese border until the situation with Hizbullah stabilized, the officer said.
In the West Bank, the IDF has also noticed a stepped-up effort by local Palestinian terror cells to perpetrate suicide attacks against Israeli cities. There were eight suicide and kidnapping attempts that were thwarted by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the IDF, some within cities after terrorists had already infiltrated into Israel.
"There was pressure from outside to launch attacks," a Central Command source said Thursday. "The Palestinians tried to launch attacks against cities in Israel and tried to kidnap soldiers in the West Bank. Their thinking was that people would run away from the North because of the rockets and wouldn't be able to go to the South because of the rockets, and they would then make it dangerous to go to Tel Aviv."
On Thursday, troops shot dead a Palestinian who approached the border fence in central Gaza. The army said the Palestinian was carrying a suspicious bag with wires sticking out, and that he was warned repeatedly before soldiers opening fire.
Palestinian violence continued to escalate on Friday while two wanted Islamic Jihad operatives were caught near Bethlehem early in the morning.
The two were suspected of involvement in shooting attacks and the kidnapping of an Israeli in June and were in possession of M-16 rifles, grenades, and night vision equipment when they were killed by security forces.
Meanwhile, the IDF arrested three wanted Fatah members in Nablus. During the operation, armed Palestinians opened fire on the troops, though no one was wounded.
Also on Friday three Hamas men were killed north of Jenin when the bomb belt they were preparing exploded prematurely.
The three were working on the explosive device in order to carry out an attack on Israel.
Later Friday morning, Palestinians opened fire at the West Bank settlement of Psagot. No one was wounded in the attack.