IDF warns of more planned attacks near Gaza since escalation (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Gili Cohen 04/01/12)
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Planned attacks against Israeli soldiers along the Gaza border are on
the rise since the latest round of violence three weeks ago,
according to the Israel Defense Forces.
The IDF has reportedly registered an increase in the number of
incidents involving patrols stationed near the Gaza border in the
last three weeks. Troops in the Gaza Division located several
improvised explosive devises last week along the route running
parallel to the fence along the southern Gaza border. Officers say 50
kilograms of explosives were aimed at one of the patrols.
"For us this is what we mean when we refer to escalation in recent
weeks," said Lt. Col. Yariv Ben-Ezra, commander of Battalion 50 of
the Nahal. "A week ago we found a 12-kilogram IED, and during the
past week there were others, which means that their target was much
The Nahal Brigade has been deployed on the southern front for six
months, with Ben-Ezra and his officers stationed in the Kisufim area.
Ben-Ezra says that the nature of operations in the area has changed
since the release of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit from Hamas captivity in
"The area changed completely and there are many more tactical
incidents, starting with anti-tank fire to mortars fired at us
sporadically," said Ben-Ezra.
Recently, more than 50 mortar shells have been fired near where his
soldiers operate, as well as inside the outposts, he said.
"The area is much more active, and there is a lot of activity mostly
by small organizations," said Ben-Ezra. "The other side is frustrated
that their escalation of rocket fire into the south has had no
impact, and it is clear to us that if there had been mistakes, if we
were exposed and became an easy target, then they would hit us."
The threat of anti-tank missiles has significantly altered the way
operations are carried out on the Gaza front. According to Division
orders, activity near the fence is prohibited during the middle of
the day, due to concern that soldiers could be targeted with anti-
tank missiles. The very day that the recent escalation began - even
before the killing of a senior figure in the Popular Resistance
Committees - an anti-tank missile was fired at troops on patrol, said
Ben-Ezra. "It slipped from the headlines but a 170-millimeter rocket
was fired at us and this is something that occurs once a week," he
In response to the anti-tank missile threats, Brig. Gen. Yossi
Bachar, commander of the Gaza Division, has requested tanks equipped
with Windbreaker, a system that protects armor against incoming
Meanwhile, the main threats for troops are enemy observers. They
approach the fence armed with a camera and a notebook, posing as
innocent civilians such as goat herders, or traveling with a donkey
and cart. Unlike the situation in the West Bank, the "red line" is
clear to troops stationed near Gaza: If someone comes within 300
meters of the fence, the troops may ask for permission to open fire
with a heavy machine gun in order to drive the person away.
A visit to the area suggests that the situation is calm, and
intelligence assessments indicate that Hamas intends to keep it that
way. On Friday, Hamas militants were seen dispersing a mass
demonstration in front of the Erez crossing in northern Gaza and in
Khan Younis in the south.
But for Ben-Ezra and other commanders, it appears just a matter of
time before they are forced to undertake a more aggressive mission in
the Gaza Strip. Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz has already given
orders to start training for operations in Gaza, and the infantry
brigades are scheduled to complete their preparations for these
drills shortly. "This pressure cooker will explode some time," said
Ben-Ezra. (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 04/01/12)
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