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´Over 10 terror cells have been exposed in two months in Sinai´ (ISRAEL HAYOM) Lilach Shoval, Shlomo Cesana and Ronit Zilberstein 04/06/12)Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=3844 Israel Hayom Israel Hayom Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Military Intelligence chief says terrorist groups strengthening their hold in Sinai • IDF chief of staff warns: "The long arm of the state of Israel eventually reaches anyone who wishes harm upon Israeli citizens and the Jewish people."

Israeli security forces countrywide went on hight alert Friday, hours ahead of the Passover, and a closure was imposed on the Palestinian territories for the duration of the holiday. Police boosted their presence on the roads, in Jerusalem, and in the southern resort city of Eilat, which suffered a Grad rocket attack overnight Wednesday. In a statement, the IDF Spokesperson´s Unit said the army has no intelligence of impending attacks, but that the army would be on high alert along the borders.

The IDF has expressed concern over recent events emanating from the Sinai Peninsula, especially in the wake of Wednesday´s late night rocket attack on Eilat, believed to have been launched from Egyptian territory.

Director of Military Intelligence Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi said on Thursday that "over 10 terrorist cells have been exposed and neutralized in the past two months, and the terror organizations continue to establish themselves and strengthen their grip [in Sinai]."

The military intelligence chief, speaking at an IDF officer´s school graduation ceremony, added that "the Middle East is undergoing drastic changes. We have learned from experience that we must prepare to overcome the security threats and instability that will characterize the region in the coming years."

IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, also speaking at the IDF ceremony, called Wednesday´s rocket fire from inside Sinai "an act of hate." During the award ceremony for officers who graduated with distinction, the IDF chief of staff said, "The [attack] was carried out by terror organizations operating in Sinai, and we are treating these acts with the utmost seriousness. After we disrupted a deadly terrorist attack aimed at Israel´s homefront, we received rocket fire from Gaza, which Hamas is responsible for."

Gantz went on to say, "Those who plan and send others to carry out hate and terrorist attacks should know that whether in Gaza, Lebanon or anywhere else – the long arm of the state of Israel eventually reaches anyone who wishes harm upon Israeli citizens and the Jewish people."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who spoke on Thursday at the 40- year anniversary of the Sabena Airline hostage rescue operation, in which he participated and was wounded, also commented on the rocket fire from Sinai. "The Sinai Peninsula has been a terror camp for some time already, a launching area for attacks against Israeli citizens," he said, adding that terrorists cannot be given immunity, "they must simply be fought."

Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who held a joint meeting with the IDF chief of staff and the heads of the intelligence and defense community to assess the situation on Israel´s southern border, emphasized that Israel will "hit the people who fired at Eilat and tried to harm Israeli citizens. There will be no compromises on the matter."

Meanwhile, tourists and visitors to Israel´s southernmost resort town were taking recent events in their stride. "There hasn´t been even one hotel cancellation," said CEO of the Eilat Hotel Association Shabtai Shai. "People aren´t scared and are continuing to enjoy their vacation," Shai said.

Remains from one of the rockets indicated it was a Grad-type rocket, a medium-range projectile often used by terrorists in the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula, Army Radio reported on Thursday.

Eilat residents heard the explosions just before dawn. "I heard a whistling noise and then two incredibly loud explosions, right next to my house. I saw a cloud of sand next to a construction site," Anat, an Eilat resident who didn´t want to give her last name, told Israel Hayom.

Dudi Turgeman, 24, heard the explosions just as he was parking his car. "There was a loud boom and I immediately ducked. I saw a massive cloud of dust and called the police," he said.

According to Army Radio, it took security forces time to confirm whether rockets had in fact struck Eilat because the city does not have an early-warning siren, unlike Israeli communities bordering the Gaza Strip.

An Egyptian security source in Cairo told Reuters on Thursday that Egyptian forces were searching the area along the border but had not found any evidence indicating rockets had been fired from Sinai.


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