Daily Israel Report

IAF Strikes Gaza Terrorists and Training Camps

Israel's air force registered several successes against enemy elements over the Sabbath, taking out rocket-launching cells and terrorist training camps. Strikes continued Saturday night and Sunday.
By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz and Ezra HaLevi
First Publish: 4/9/2006, 1:18 PM / Last Update: 4/8/2006, 10:36 PM

Speaking to Army Radio early on Sunday morning, IDF Colonel (res.) Moshe Yogev, a senior Gaza area officer serving in the military reserves, had words of praise for Saturday night’s aerial assault targeting a Fatah training base in southern Gaza, near Khan Yunis.

Palestinian Authority (PA) sources reported 14 people were killed in the strikes, including members of the PA's armed security force.

Yogev pointed out that since Israel left Gaza during the summer of 2005, over 440 rockets were launched from PA-controlled Gaza towards western Negev communities. He added that he does not see any alternative to ordering ground forces back into Gaza to bring an end to the attacks.

IAF aircraft Saturday morning struck and killed two Palestinian Authority terrorists in northern Gaza. The two men, members of the Fatah-affiliated Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade's Mujahideen units, were involved in Kassam rocket attacks on Israeli targets in the western Negev. The cell they were a part of was planning further rocket attacks, as well. Arab sources reported that a missile fired by an IAF plane struck a car carrying the two terrorists, killing them and seriously injuring a third person.

On Saturday night, IAF planes bombed a Fatah training camp in the southern Gaza Strip. Palestinian Authority sources report that between six and seven terrorists were killed in the strike. The facility, established on the ruins of the evicted Jewish community of N'vei Dekalim,was used by Fatah terrorists for training and attack preparations.

The Saturday night strike was the third for the IAF in 24 hours, as on Friday night the force successfully eliminated five armed men who had just left a terrorist training camp in Rafiach, on the Gaza-Egypt border. Among those killed was Iyad Abd Al-Ainan, an explosives expert of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), an organizational framework including Islamist and pan-Arabist terrorists.

An IDF spokesperson reported that the terrorists were killed as they left a PRC terror camp in their vehicle after completing weapons and other training. There were reportedly six terrorists in the targeted vehicle, although sources noted only five deaths.

The Hamas terrorist organization, currently the government of the Palestinian Authority, threatened to retaliate.

The IDF has decided to step up its pressure on terrorist organizations in Gaza in light of increasing rocket attacks on Jewish and Israeli targets in areas surrounding Gaza. An official military statement on the successful air strikes over the Sabbath said: "The citizens of Israel face a daily, indiscriminate terrorist assault, which includes suicide bombings, such as the attack in Kedumim last week, and rocket attacks, that caused great damage yesterday to a factory in Israeli territory north of the Gaza Strip. The IDF will continue to act with increased intensity against any element carrying out terrorism or supporting it, in order to prevent harm to the citizens of the State of Israel."

Israeli forces continued to attack the approach paths to the area used by PA terrorists for launching rockets at Negev-area Jewish communities. More than 40 Kassam rockets were fired from Gaza into the western Negev in the past week, with one landing in PA-controlled territory Saturday night, as well.

The police and military are moving to high terrorism alert starting tomorrow. The move was decided upon as a precaution following the Gaza air strikes, as well as due to an increase in intelligence warnings of planned attacks and due to the general increased security ahead of the upcoming Passover holiday.

In a related development, security authorities reported that a person with affiliations to the international Islamist terror organization Al-Qaeda was taken into custody in Hizme, adjacent to Jerusalem's northern border on Friday. According to the report, the PA resident was enlisted to operate on behalf of Al-Qaeda in PA autonomous areas. He was turned over to General Security Services for interrogation.