IDF to raise alert level for elections

W. Bank closure to continue next week; Jihad man shot dead planting bomb.

Palestinian terror groups have stepped up efforts to perpetrate a terror attack against Israel in the run up to next Tuesday's general elections, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz warned on Thursday. Earlier in the day, IDF forces shot and killed two Islamic Jihad operatives who were in the midst of planting a large bomb along the Gaza Strip security fence. Starting Sunday, security forces will go on high alert across the country to prevent terror attacks. Forces will be beefed up along the seam line with the West Bank and a closure imposed on the territories last week will remain in effect. Security forces, Mofaz decided, would stay on high alert until Land Day on March 30. "We need to do everything possible to ensure security on Election Day," Mofaz said during a security assessment at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv. "The Palestinian terror groups are making efforts to perpetrate an attack during these days and we cannot let terror influence the democratic process." Mofaz further praised the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), the police and the IDF for thwarting a suicide bombing on Tuesday by capturing the bomber as he drove on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway. "The terror groups are still motivated to carry out attacks and it is only our continued efforts that are preventing them," he said. Mofaz also decided to establish a special legal team made up of representatives from the Shin Bet, the Israel Police, the IDF and other government ministries to come up with ideas how to, by law, deter Israelis from transporting Palestinians within Israel. The bomber caught Tuesday was being driven to his target by an Israeli-Arab who ferries Palestinians residing illegally in Israel. Early Thursday, IDF troops spotted three Palestinians placing a bomb along the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip near the Kissufim Crossing. A tank stationed nearby opened fire and an IAF aircraft hovering above launched a missile at the cell killing two. Later in the day, Palestinian police discovered the bomb made of 30 kilograms of explosives. Commander of IDF forces in the northern Gaza Strip Col. Moni Katz said that the terrorists intended to detonate the bomb as military jeeps drove along the fence. "Since leaving Gaza," Katz said, "we have faced a series of terror attacks and have thwarted over 40 attempts to plant bombs along the fence as well as 30 infiltration attempts." Katz said that the IDF enjoyed cooperation with the Palestinian security forces in the Gaza Strip who destroyed the bomb in a controlled explosion. "We work with them on a daily basis and there are even attacks that are thwarted on their own initiative," he said. "The cooperation however is not at the level that we would like but it certainly is good and they do help us thwart attacks." Also Thursday, two IDF soldiers were lightly wounded by shrapnel after shots were fired at them during an arrest raid in Nablus. During the raid, troops arrested two members of Islamic Jihad and one Fatah terror suspect. In Tulkarm, three Hamas militants were also apprehended.