Palestinian Authority terrorists in Gaza have been emulating the tactics of the Lebanese Hizbullah, according to IDF sources. At least one of the PA weapons suppliers is also the same as that of Hizbullah: Iran.
IDF forces operating in the PA-controlled northern Gaza region on Thursday morning discovered rocket launchers that had been placed in concrete bunkers hidden underground. The launchers could be activated from a distance
Hamas has been heavily influenced by the Lebanese Hizbullah.
by remote control, IDF officials said, which allowed terrorists to escape IDF attempts to immediately retaliate against the rocket-launching cells.
According to military sources, the concrete rocket bunkers in Gaza demonstrate that Hamas has been heavily influenced by the Lebanese Hizbullah terrorist organization. As was discovered by the IDF, Hizbullah forces have used similar tactics along Israel's northern border, in southern Lebanon.
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In addition to the specific tactic revealed Thursday, intelligence officials have repeated warnings that Iran is supplying jihadists in Gaza with weaponry similar to that the Islamic Republic supplied to the Hizbullah in Lebanon. Evidence of this was provided in January, when a Katyusha rocket fired by Hamas terrorists during an attack on Ashkelon was found to have been manufactured in Iran. The continuing breach in the Gaza-Egypt border has further facilitated the transfer, not only of weapons, according to security sources, but also of Iranian advisers for the PA jihadists.
Intelligence officials say that Iran has used funding, weapons and advanced terrorist training at camps inside the Islamic Republic to build up a critical influence on the PA's leading Hamas faction.
Rockets Fired From School
The Associated Press, reporting a claim that Israel targeted a Gaza agricultural school, exposed the fact that rockets were being fired from inside the school, using it as a shield. "Associated Press Television News footage showed the school to be a series of huts in a rural area," the AP reported. "A rocket-launching device was spotted between some olive trees, indicating militants had used the school for cover to launch attacks."
Two Rockets Landed Near a School
Despite the IDF activity in northern Gaza on Thursday, PA attacks on Jewish communities in the region continued all day. By Thursday night, Gaza terrorists had fired at least 19 rockets at the towns in the Negev.
Two PA rockets exploded near a school in the Eshkol Regional Council in the afternoon. One hit a factory in the industrial zone of the city of Sderot, igniting a fire and sending a number of people into shock. A rocket fired on Thursday night landed near the residential area of Sderot.
In other attacks by PA terrorists, Israeli workers came under enemy gunfire along the Gaza security fence on Thursday night. The attack took place north of Nahal Oz. No injuries were reported in the incident.
DM Barak: We Will Strike Back 'Until the Problem is Solved'
In the early morning IDF counter-terrorism operation in northern Gaza, seven PA terrorists were killed, among them five members of Hamas and one member of the Islamic Jihad. A rocket factory and weapons storage facility were destroyed, as well. IDF ground forces and IAF war planes carried out the attacks in retaliation for the incessant PA rocket fire directed at Israeli civilians in the Negev.
Speaking at the Tze'elim army base in the south of the country, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday that
Barak said Thursday that Israel would take harsher measures against Gaza terrorists.
Israel would take harsher measures against Gaza terrorists if their attacks continue. "We will increase our activity, and the other side's losses, until the problem is solved," he said.
Barak said that IDF operations in Gaza were successful in reducing the number of rocket strikes launched from the PA; however, he cautioned, enemy attacks "will not end today or tomorrow." He advocated a combination of military operations, sanctions on Gaza and fortifications in Israeli cities.
On the diplomatic front, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told US military envoy General James Jones Thursday that Israel has to deal with threats from Gaza before a Palestinian Authority state is established.
"We must provide an actual response to the threat emerging from Gaza before the inception of a Palestinian state," said Livni, adding that Israel's security is a priority, especially if PA Arabs view Gaza as a part of any future state.
Ezra HaLevi contributed to this report