Terror Groups Exploit Humanitarian Crossing in Attack on Outpost

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IDF Chief Halutz on kidnapped soldier: “Hamas involved from head to foot”

Hamas’ military wing Izz Eddeen al-Qassam Brigades, together with the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), and a new terrorist group the Islamic Army – presumed to be associated with the global Islamic Jihad movement – joined efforts to strike against an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) outpost near the Kerem Shalom border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip today. In recent weeks the Kerem Shalom crossing has been a conduit for substantial humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip.

The terrorist attack carried out Sunday morning by seven terrorists who infiltrated the border via a 100 meter-long tunnel that was apparently dug months before under the terminal in the Rafah area. [1] Lt. Hanan Barak, 20, from Arad, and St.-Sgt. Pavel Slotsker, 20, from Dimona [2] were killed by the attack and a third soldier, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, 19, from Mitzpeh Hila was kidnapped by the militants. Four IDF soldiers were also wounded. [3]

IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, speaking at a Sunday afternoon press conference on the situation, stated that “Hamas is involved in this matter from head to foot, literally ;” [4] implicating that the attack was perpetrated “under the direction and authorization of the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip.” [5]

The attack is a serious escalation in the already fragile security situation in which almost 800 rockets have been fired into Israel pursuant to the disengagement from Gaza last summer.

On Saturday evening (June 24) alone, the southern region’s Red Dawn early warning system was set off five times to alert residents of possible Qassam launchings. Israeli security forces located two Qassam rockets that had fallen in open fields in the western Negev. [6] As of June 13, more than 100 Qassams have been fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel. [7]

In the past, IDF soldiers who have been kidnapped by terrorist groups have been utilized as bargaining chips.

The seven terrorists who perpetrated that attack first fired upon an IDF tank with an anti-tank missile. Another missile was fired at an IDF lookout post and a third was fired on an empty armored personnel carrier. [8]

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was quoted by Ynet stating that “The government (Israel) views the Palestinian Authority, including Abu Mazen (Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas) and the Palestinian prime minister as the people responsible for the serious incident that took place in Kerem Shalom .” [9]

Hamas movement spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri said that the Sunday attack was “a fulfillment of the duty to the girl Huda Ghalia whose family was killed in front of her eyes.” [10]

Popular Resistance Committees spokesperson Abu Mujahid claimed that the attack and kidnapping were in retaliation for the June 8, 2006 IDF air strike in Gaza that killed PRC chairman and leader Jamal abu Samhadana. [11]

Samhadana was wanted by Israel for his terrorist ties and his involvement in several terrorist attacks including the Oct. 15, 2003 bombing in which three American private security contractors were killed in an attack on a U.S. Embassy convoy in Gaza.

However, the tunnel used in the attack appears to have taken months to construct, contradicting the claim that this attack was perpetrated in response to Samhadana’s death two weeks ago. The tunnel resembles those uncovered in Rafah between the Gaza Strip and Egypt during the IDF’s “Operation Rainbow” in 2004.

Background and Key Facts

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) closed the Kerem Shalom passage into southern Gaza on June 20 because of a security alert. [12] Kerem Shalom functions as a passageway between Gaza and Israel and as a liaison office. [13] Under the Agreed Principles for Rafah Crossing, a U.S. brokered deal between Israel, the Palestinians, and Egypt, the liaison office receives real-time video and data feed of the activities at the Rafah Crossing. [14]The security alert at Kerem Shalom denied the IDF access to the information regarding the Rafah crossing. This crossing, between Gaza and Egypt, was therefore closed for the majority of the security alert. [15] On the day the alert ended, June 23, 2006, Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) deployed his own forces at the Karni crossing. [16]

When the Karni crossing was closed for security alerts, the Kerem Shalom crossing was often used as an alternative. On January 23, 2006, Kerem Shalom was opened to help facilitate transport of wheat, flour, and fruit after a security alert caused the Karni crossing to partially close. [17] Also, during the week of March 22, more than 550 tons of humanitarian goods were transferred into the Gaza Strip. [18]

Last summer, all Israeli civilians and military personnel were completely withdrawn from the Gaza Strip during the Sharon government’s “disengagement” operation. A total of more than 9,000 Israeli civilians gave up their homes, schools, businesses, farms and places of worship as Israel took bold moves in hopes of peace. Despite the fact that Palestinians elected Hamas, a terrorist organization devoted to destroying Israel, and that rockets regularly rain into Israeli civilian areas from Gaza. Since then, IDF forces since then have only briefly crossed into border areas of the Gaza Strip for limited military operations. Last night, two Palestinian brothers were arrested in Gaza for planning a large scale attack against Israel. In previous incursions, the IDF removed explosives near the border, and briefly entered Gaza to kill militants who were launching rockets. [19]

Today’s attack is an example of how terrorists utilize Gaza border crossings to conducts acts of terror against Israeli military personnel and civilians. Other examples include:

  • Jan. 9, 2002 – Four IDF soldiers of the Bedouin desert patrol unit were killed and two were injured when Palestinian terrorists from southern Gaza wearing explosives belts and carrying assault rifles and grenades disguised themselves as Palestinian Security Service police men. At 4:30 they attacked the IDF unit near Kerem Shalom. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. One of the two terrorists was a member of the P.A.’s naval force. The victims: Maj. Ashraf Hawash, 28, of Beit Zarzir; Sgt.-Maj. Ibrahim Hamadieh, 23, of Rehaniya; Sgt.-Maj. Hana (Eli) Abu-Ghanem, 25, of Haifa; and Sgt. Mofid Sawaid, 25, of Abu Snan. [20]
  • March 14, 2004 – Hamas and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade terrorists perpetrated a double suicide bombing at the Ashdod Port in which 10 civilians were killed and 12 injured. The militants were able to infiltrate Israel via the Karni crossing by concealing themselves in a container transport. [21]
  • April 15, 2003 – Two Israeli civilians were killed and three Israeli civilians were injured when a terrorist passed through Karni and assaulted them with gunfire and grenades. [22]

    Notes

    [1] JPost.com staff, “Palestinians wounded, being treated,” Jerusalem Post, June 25, 2006, http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1150885844770&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull

    [2] Brannon, Josh, JPost Staff, and AP, “2 soldiers killed, 4 wounded in the attack,” Jerusalem Post, June 25, 2006, http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1150885841743&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

    [3] Harel, Amos, Issacharoff, Avi, Haaretz Service and Reuters, “Two soldiers killed, one missing in raid on IDF post,” Haaretz, June 25, 2006, http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/730994.html

    [4] Ibid.

    [5] “Two soldiers killed, one missing in Kerem Shalom terror attack,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, June 25, 2006, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Government/Communiques/2006/Two+soldiers+killed+one+missing+in+Kerem+Shalom+terror+attack+25-Jun-2006.htm

    [6] Haddad, Shmulik, “Words of retaliation against Gaza in Sderot,” Ynet News, June 24, 2006, http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3266773,00.html

    [7] “Communiques: Summary of events in the Gaza Strip,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, June 11, 2006, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Government/Communiques/2006/Summary+of+events+in+the+Gaza+Strip+11-Jun-2006.htm

    [8] Harel, Amos, Issacharoff, Avi, Haaretz Service and Reuters, “Two soldiers killed, one missing in raid on IDF post,” Haaretz, June 25, 2006, http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/730994.html

    [9] Sofer, Ronny, “Abbas, Haniyeh responsible for the attack,” Ynet News, June 25, 2006, http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3266925,00.html

    [10] Waked, Ali, “Hamas: No information on kidnapped soldier for nothing,” Ynet News, June 25, 2006, http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3267064,00.html

    [11] Agencies, “Israeli soldier missing after Gaza attack,” Al-Jazeera, June 25, 2006, http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/007A0EE2-6DFE-4480-B3B3-05356F29B88F.htm

    [12] Issacharoff, Avi, “Egypt-Gaza border crossing to re-open following security alert,” Haaretz, June 20, 2006

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/729220.html

    [13] “Rafah crossing on Gaza-Egypt border reopens following alert,” Haaretz, June 24, 2006, http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/730692.html

    [14] U.S Department of State “Israel, Palestinians Agree on Two Documents on Movement Access,” November 15, 2005,

    http://usinfo.state.gov/mena/Archive/2005/Nov/15-381874.html

    [15] “Rafah crossing on Gaza-Egypt border reopens following alert,” Haaretz, June 24, 2006, http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/730692.html

    [16] Ibid.

    [17] “Gaza Strip Situation Report,” United Nations for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, March 23, 2006, http://domino.un.org/unispal.nsf/22f431edb91c6f548525678a0051be1d/ea18f2bd65c8a24f8525713b005728a0!OpenDocument

    [18] “Gaza Strip Situation Report,” United Nations for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, March 29, 2006, http://www.amin.org/eng/uncat/2006/mar/ochaSR_Gaza290306%5B1%5D.pdf

    [19] Harel, Amos and Issacharoff, Avi, “Commandos enter Rafah, arrest two Hamas militants,” Haaretz, June 25, 2006,

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/730782.html

    [20] “Victims of Palestinian violence and terrorism since September 2000, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sept. 27, 2000, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Terrorism-+Obstacle+to+Peace/Palestinian+terror+since+2000/Victims+of+Palestinian+Violence+and+Terrorism+sinc.htm

    [21] “Terror attack at Karni Crossing,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jan. 13, 2005, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/MFAArchive/2000_2009/2005/Terror%20attack%20at%20Karni%20Crossing%2013-Jan-2005

    [22] Ibid.

    The Israel Project

  • Alan Gray is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of NewsBlaze Daily News and other online newspapers. He prefers to edit, rather than write, but sometimes an issue rears it’s head and makes him start pounding the keyboard. Alan has a fascination with making video and video editing, so watch out if he points his Canon 7d in your direction.