Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Civilian attacks by PLO force government to respond.

Despite Discovery of Numerous Arms-Smuggling Tunnels, Israel Ensures Humanitarian Aid Flows to Palestinian Civilians to Ease Hardships
Israel will increase its military operations in the Gaza Strip in response to a recent rise in Qassam rocket attacks by Hamas [see timeline below], Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Monday, Oct. 30. One of the Qassam rockets fired Monday landed near an Ashkelon strategic structure. [1].

"Israel is operating against Hamas centers in Gaza," Olmert told the Knesset (Parliament) Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. [2]. "We will expand the operations, but we will not remain for an extended period in Gaza."

He also stressed that Israel will cooperate with the international community to facilitate the continuation of foreign aid into the Gaza Strip to help Palestinian civilians. [see below]

Olmert denied news reports that the Egyptian army had deployed thousands of troops along the Israeli border in recent days in order to prevent arms-smuggling into the Gaza Strip. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has in the last two months uncovered dozens of smuggling tunnels dug underneath the Gaza-Egyptian border by terrorist groups linked to Fatah, Hamas and the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

On Sunday, Oct. 29, Hamas acknowledged publicly for the first time its role in digging such tunnels, in a statement mourning the death of Izz Eddeen al-Qassam Brigades member Bakr Na'eem Al-Assar, who died two days earlier in an accidental explosion in one such tunnel. "The Qassam fighters are working on top of and under the ground… Their guns are pointed and will remain directed at the one and only enemy, Israel," according to the statement. [3].

Background and Key Facts.
The number of Qassam rockets launched in October, in comparison to September, has increased drastically. According to the IDF, about 15 Qassams landed in Israel during September. [4] In October, 72 Qassam rockets and 12 mortars were launched from Gaza into Israel. Twelve of the Qassams have landed in the southern Israeli city of Sderot. [5].

In the past month, IDF ground troops have unearthed 14 tunnels Palestinians used for smuggling weapons from Egypt into the Gaza Strip. [6] Additional shafts and uncompleted tunnels have been found near the Gaza anti-terrorist fence. [7].

Oct. 18, 2006 During a single IDF operation to prevent weapons smuggling from Egypt into Gaza, the IDF uncovered five tunnels. Since the beginning of the IDF operations on Oct. 18, eight tunnels have been unearthed.

Source: The Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson's Office.

Read the article continued. There is also an Oct. 2006 Timeline: Gaza Terror Activities.

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