IDF: Katyushas brought into Gaza

Officer reveals that new weapons may justify re-entry of army forces.

katyushas 298 .88 ap (photo credit: AP)
katyushas 298 .88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Palestinians have smuggled a number of Katyusha rockets into the Gaza Strip, potentially threatening towns well inside Israel, a senior military official said Friday. While the official initially said that several dozen Katyushas have reached Gaza, but later explained that he had meant to say "a few." The official also said Israel was prepared to re-enter Gaza in response to the threat of the rockets, but has no plans to do so in the immediate future. Since the disengagement from the Gaza Strip last summer, Katyushas have been smuggled through tunnels along the southern border with Egypt, the official said, adding that some parts have entered Gaza through the Rafah border crossing. The Rafah crossing is controlled by Palestinian security forces along with European monitors. The official said some of the rockets were made by Iran, but gave few other details on their origins. Last month, Islamic Jihad terrorists, who have close ties with Iran, fired a Katyusha rocket into southern Israel for the first time. The rocket caused no damage, but had longer range and was more powerful than the homemade rockets usually fired by Palestinian militants. The official said Israel wants to avoid a ground operation in Gaza but will do so if the Palestinians increase their capabilities in a "significant way." He cited the entrance of the Katyushas as a possible reason for military action.