Daily Israel Report

Air Force Chief: Terrorists Work Out of Densely-Populated Areas

Palestinian terrorists operate in densely-populated urban areas to make it harder for the IDF to strike at them - but Israel will keep striking out at them, says IAF Chief Maj.-Gen. Shakedi.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 6/22/2006, 4:27 PM / Last Update: 6/22/2006, 9:35 AM

"The terrorists understand that our operations against them are chiefly from the air," Shakedi told Army Radio after last night's miss that killed three civilians, "and they change their way of working accordingly. They are inside the cities, in yards, crowding themselves inward. The amount of time that they are outside is very little."

Twelve Arabs not known to have been involved with terrorism were killed in Israeli air strikes of the past few days. "We make every effort to prevent striking innocents," Shakedi said, repeating what Israeli leaders have been saying over the past several days, "but in the current situation, the IDF essentially does not have an efficient alternative other than air strikes. The only other possibility, in principle, is a comprehensive ground option, which we are trying to avoid if possible."

The most recent victims of Israel's war against terrorism were a brother and sister, and 12 people were injured. The missile missed its target - a jeep carrying terrorists in a sparsely-populated area - and hit a nearby house instead. IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz ordered an internal army investigation in light of the high number of recent casualties.

The target of the attack was Imad Abu Hamad, head of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades organization in the Gaza Strip, who was only injured by the missile. Abu Hamad, 36, directed terror attacks against Israel, the IDF reported, and was deeply involved in the funding and establishing of Al Aqsa's launching capabilities.

Abu Hamad began his activity against Israel in the early 90s. In mid-2004, he established himself as a central contact between Hizbullah in Lebanon and the Al Aqsa infrastructure in the field, pursuing and directing various terror activities. He attempted to kidnap Israeli civilians and gathered intelligence on the locations of Israeli forces and civilians for future attacks. Just two months ago, on Passover eve, Abu Hamad was responsible for dispatching two armed terrorists to carry out an attack inside an IDF base just outside Gaza; they were killed in the attempt. He is known to have smuggled large amounts of weaponry into the Gaza Strip, was recently involved in an attempt to carry out a large-scale terror attack at the Karni crossing, and worked to smuggle suicide bombers into Israel through Sinai.

"We are acting with very great caution," Shakedi said. "I have instituted greater stringencies regarding the hitting of those who are not involved, and at this time we must make a very great effort to try everything so that those who are not involved are not hit."

The IDF announced, once again, its determination "to continue its battle against the terror organizations. The responsibility for the continued rocket fire from the Gaza Strip lies with the leadership of the Palestinian Authority."