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Escalation on Southern Front Following Northern CeaseFire

The terrorist war in the south heated up Monday as Ashkelon was struck with longer range rockets similar to those used by Hizbullah terrorists in the north. Arab media incited for a third Intifada.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 8/15/2006, 4:52 AM / Last Update: 8/15/2006, 7:38 AM

Islamic Jihad terrorists said they fired two Russian-made Grad 120-millimeter rockets into the center of the port city of Ashkelon, home of several strategic facilities including pipelines and a huge power plant. Four people were treated for shock after the rockets exploded, but damage was light. IDF aircraft later targeted the three terrorists in the cell that launched the rockets on Ashkelon.

The Grad rockets are similar to the Katyusha rockets that were fired by Hizbullah terrorists at the Galilee, and IDF sources have estimated that Gaza area terrorist cells have at least dozens of the weapons. They have a firing range of up to 12 miles, which places Ashkelon well within the range of northern Gaza.

The rocket launcher has several tubes and can be mounted on the chassis of a truck, making it difficult to target .

The attack came at the same time that Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh called for a cease fire with Israel. However, a Hamas columnist wrote in the terrorist movement's bulletin that the "Palestinian resistance" would be the "greatest beneficiary" of what he called Hizbullah's victory in the north.

Writing in the newspaper Al Risala, Hamas member Ibrahim Abu Heija said that the Hizbullah attacks on northern Israel created "an important moment that the Palestinian resistance must seize" toward a third Intifada.

"And now, after the cease-fire [hudna] has been tried and the experience of changing the [Palestinian] Authority reached its peak, the door will be opened for a third Palestinian intifada" that will transform the resistance to offensive attacks against Israel.

The United Nations Security Council ceasefire resolution calls for the return of two IDF soldiers kidnapped by Hizbullah terrorists July 12, but does not make their release a condition for the agreement nor does it mention the third adducted soldier, Gilad Shalit. Hamas terrorists kidnapped him two months ago, but despite large-scale IDF offensives throughout the Gaza area, no progress has been reported toward locating him. Terrorist leaders in Gaza have said he is in good condition.

Al Kassam Brigades terrorist leader in Khan Yunis said Monday that Hamas will move the IDF hostage and fight back if Israel tries to rescue him. PA security officials contend that Israel may try to stage an operation to rescue the soldier in order to make up for their failure to rescue the two soldiers held by Hizbullah.

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas traveled to Gaza Monday and is to meet Tuesday with Prime Minister Haniyeh, who leads the Hamas party. Abbas is head of the rival Fatah faction. Abbas said he wants to create a national unity government.