No tranquility in Gaza (JERUSALEM POST) By ARIEH O´SULLIVAN 12/01/03)
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The skinny intelligence captain, his red hair cut into a flattop,
points at the cement wall where a few hours before a home-made rocket
hit, leaving a star-like impression.
"It could have been bad, really bad," he said Sunday at his base in
He drew an arch in the Gazan sky like the one the rocket made
Saturday night after Palestinians fired it from Khan Yunis, on the
other side of the dune, over three aluminum-sided army trailers, to
its point of impact just beyond two cement outhouses at the IDF Gaza
The explosion shattered all the windows in the area, but otherwise
caused no other damage.
"I heard this most massive explosion and I came running out with my
weapon. I saw it was a rocket. If it had hit one of the trailers or
the toilets I´m sure there would have been casualties," said the
Shortly afterward, mortar rounds hit Neveh Dekalim, causing extensive
damage to one of the houses, but miraculously no casualties.
Despite the brouhaha over the signing of Geneva agreement and the
flurry of mainly rhetoric on the peace front, the little wars
continue in the Gaza Strip. Nightly there are attempted infiltrations
and bombings, arrests and shootings.
Senior military officers said Sunday they have marked a flurry of
attacks and attempted operations by Palestinian terrorist groups,
most likely as a last chance to strike at Israelis before a cease-
fire is imposed on them. The rocket and mortar strike was just the
The clubhouse at the divisional headquarters has turned into a
makeshift museum of dud or confiscated bombs and rockets. Some are
sleek metal tubes with fins called "el-Ban" – like the one that
struck the base hours before – and others are bombs packed inside
cooking-gas canisters. But there are also sophisticated anti-armor
roadside bombs remarkably similar to those used by Hizbullah against
the IDF in southern Lebanon.
"It is clear they [the Gazans] are getting information from Hizbullah
on bomb manufacturing. This is coming from the Internet and telephone
links as well as emissaries," said the divisional demolition officer,
who could be identified only as Maj. Giora.
The most infamous of the Palestinian rockets is of course the Kassam,
which has struck Sderot and the southern reaches of Ashkelon. But a
senior IDF commander in the Gaza Strip said the Palestinians are
having more trouble with their warheads than extending the rockets´
"They carry a 10-kilogram warhead, which can be very effective, but a
large percentage are actually duds. There is also an engineering
problem in extending their range, since they have to deal with very
high pressure on their metals from the solid fuel ignition," said
In the meantime, soldiers deal nightly with an array of attempted
infiltrations and ambushes, mainly along the patrol fence separating
the coastal strip from Israel and around the settlement of Netzarim.
IDF technology has come to the fore on this front, with advanced
night-time optics along with drones providing real-time, birds´-eye
views of terrorists and fugitives.
The army proudly displayed Sunday some recent successes on the Gazan
front. In one thermal film, a top fugitive responsible for smuggling
weapons through tunnels from Egypt was filmed from above as he fled
his home during a raid. The drone operators were able to direct
troops on the ground to the house where the fugitive had sought
refuge and thus to capture him.
Other films show an armed pair of Palestinians attempting to cut
through the fence and then fleeing when detected. Another showed a
squad of gunmen moving toward a settlement and then being ambushed by
IDF troops, who killed two.
But one film in particular stood out. This was of a recent clash with
a Hamas squad spotted as it moved into action near an undisclosed
location this past month. An IDF sniper was able to hit one gunman
and the others, one toting a heavy machine gun, quickly brought in a
cart drawn by a donkey to evacuate him. To prevent further attacks on
the squad, they also brought with them two children as human shields.
"It was clear they were terrorists, but we didn´t fire at them
because of the two kids," said a senior officer.
(© 1995-2003, The Jerusalem Post 12/01/03)
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