GSS Warning: PA's Gaza-Based Rockets Aiming Further North

Kiryat Gat, 56 kilometers south of Tel Aviv, is likely to come into the range of improved Palestinian Authority rockets being developed in Gaza.

Nissan Ratzlav-Katz ,

GSS Director Yuval Diskin
GSS Director Yuval Diskin
The city of Kiryat Gat, 56 kilometers south of Tel Aviv, is likely to come into the range of improved Palestinian Authority rockets being developed in, or smuggled into, Gaza. That was one of several warnings issued by General Security Services (Shabak) Director Yuval Diskin during a briefing he delivered on Tuesday before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
PA terrorists "have been able to create a feeling of normalcy in rocket attacks." - GSS Director Yuval Diskin

Hundreds of Kassam rockets have been fired at western Negev communities in Israel since an Israeli-PA ceasefire went into effect last November. The rocket developed by the Hamas terrorist organization, the Kassam, has already struck the southern city of Ashkelon a number of times so far this year. However, senior IDF sources have expressed the view that the range and explosive power of the Kassam could not be extended much further, leading PA terrorists to seek to obtain Katyusha rockets, such as are deployed by Hizbullah in Lebanon.

Israeli officials revealed recently that dozens, if not hundreds, of Hamas terrorists have traveled to Iran - which supplies Hizbullah with its Katyusha arsenal - for training. The phenomenon of PA terrorists training in Iran, Diskin said, is more worrisome than weapons smuggling, "because in training the personnel, the knowledge level increases."

As of now, however, one of the "great achievements" that the PA groups see in rocket terrorism, according to Diskin, is "that they have been able to create a feeling of normalcy in rocket attacks."

GSS chief Diskin further explained that PA terrorist organizations across the board are taking advantage of Israel’s promise not to carry out military operations in Gaza, smuggling tons of explosives and weapons across the border with Egypt. In 2006, PA terrorists and smugglers brought 31 tons of explosives into Gaza, six times as much as in 2005.

As for the Judea and Samaria areas, Diskin said that PA terror groups - especially the Fatah-controlled Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) - "are making great efforts to build rockets and to hit the Bat Hefer area. Thus far, thanks to our penetration in the field, we are able to prevent that, but nevertheless, there is a competition [among the PA groups] to be the first to fire a rocket."

In his report to the Knesset committee, Diskin presented the Shabak's view that the H
Diskin characterized the Fatah-Hamas relationship as a ticking time-bomb, despite the Mecca Agreement.
amas and Fatah terrorist organizations will most likely succeed in forming a unity government. However, he characterized the relationship between Fatah and Hamas as "a ticking time bomb, despite the Mecca agreement" that established the power-sharing principle in the PA. "[The] tension is still there and will continue to be there even after a government is formed.... Both sides see the period of calm as a chance for strengthening and getting organized in order to revive their movement's various institutions and militias, which creates an arms race between the parties," Diskin said.

In any event, the joint PA government will not include the PIJ, Diskin explained, as it "is only controlled by the Damascus-based leadership and by the Iranians."

The GSS director also warned of an underground network being created in Gaza, "as a result of which the IDF will encounter significant difficulties if it wants to take action in Gaza. As more time passes, it will be harder and harder to take action, not just because of the underground network, but also because of the smuggling [from Egypt]... It is not a large area that will become a fortified base without a lot of military options there," Diskin explained.

In closing, Diskin told the Knesset committee that the tax revenues released by Prime Minister Olmert to PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas "were transferred to salaries for the security militias... and not used for humanitarian matters."