IDF chided for failing to pursue infiltrators back into Gaza

Giora Eiland: Army should have sent additional forces to chase after the terrorists.

gaza kisufim border 248 (photo credit: )
gaza kisufim border 248
(photo credit: )
The IDF Southern Command was criticized Sunday for not chasing the terrorists involved in Saturday's kidnapping attempt back into the Gaza Strip. Saturday afternoon, four Islamic Jihad terrorists blew a hole in the Gaza security fence and stormed an empty IDF outpost. Soldiers arrived at the scene and killed one of the terrorists. The other three escaped back into Gaza. It was the first time Palestinian terrorists had infiltrated from Gaza since the abduction of Cpl. Gilad Schalit in June 2006. The IDF should have sent additional forces to chase after the terrorists, former National Security Council head Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, who investigated the flaws and failures that led to Schalit's abduction, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. "The question is all about how much time there was," he said. "But in principle, there are additional forces from the brigade and the division. And while the battalion commander is handling the incident with the terrorists, these forces can enter Gaza and pursue those who are running away." Southern Command officers said the IDF had learned and implemented the conclusions reached in the Schalit investigation. They said the outpost raided by the terrorists had been empty and that soldiers positioned along the border had been deployed in larger numbers than in the past. The terrorists managed to escape because the troops' first concern had been to secure the surrounding communities, the IDF said. Defense Minister Amir Peretz on Sunday praised the IDF's quick response to the infiltration. But he said the military operation had not been perfect and the IDF's conduct would be examined. The question of whether more troops were needed in the area would be addressed, he said. The IAF on Sunday bombed a building used by Islamic Jihad and a Fatah-operated arms workshop. Palestinians on Sunday fired mortars at the Erez crossing. There were no casualties.