Jerusalem – Two mortar shells landed on Tuesday in Netiv Haasara, on the Gaza Strip border, injuring two people, who were hit by shrapnel, and taken for medical treatment to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon.
One of the mortar shells hit a house that was recently renovated after being damaged by a mortar shell last October. Early Tuesday morning, five mortar shells fell near the border fence.
An initial examination of the mortar shells fired at Netiv Haasara showed that they were manufactured by Iran. These are mortar shells with standard-issue explosives, which have an effective range of about five miles, with a warhead of three pounds. A mortar shell of this type can cause more damage than a Kassam rocket.
A senior Israeli security official confirmed that these were apparently Iranian-made mortar shells. This is not the first time Iranian rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip. Several months ago, an Iranian rocket was fired from Gaza, which had a range of 15 kilometers. Israeli officials stated that the rocket supply was part of an increased Iranian involvement in the Gaza Strip, which is expressed in a supply of arms, equipment, money, experts and coaches. Security officials speculated that Iran was trying to build up Hamas’ military strength in the south in a similar format to Hezbollah’s force in the north.
Israeli Forces In Gaza Kill Two Hamas Terrorists
Two Hamas terrorists were killed on Tuesday in the course of activity carried out by the Israeli infantry Egoz unit, operating in the Dir el-Balah area. During the operation, exchanges of fire ensued between the troops and Palestinian armed men, in which two Hamas terrorists were killed.
Close to 6 a.m., the troops left the area and turned over about 10 Palestinians to the security forces for interrogation.
It was released for publication yesterday that in joint activity by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and the Israeli intelligence conducted on Feb. 25 in the Gaza Strip, the IDF arrested Mohammed Kassem, a Hamas terrorist who participated in, among other things, planning a terror attack against IDF soldiers under the cover of the protest demonstrations against the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, which were organized by Hamas near Erez crossing.
Mr. Kassem, who was born in 1989 and is a resident of Beit Lahiya, admitted in his interrogation that he was involved in a series of attempted and actual terror attacks, which included attempts to activate bombs against IDF troops, staging ambushes and observations for collecting information on the activity of IDF troops, and taking part in the planning of a suicide bombing.
Under Pressure From Residents, IDF Returns Rimonim Checkpoint
Pressure from residents of Binyamin (specifically residents of Michmash, Rimonim and Kochav Hashahar) succeeded on Tuesday. The commander of the IDF Binyamin Brigade, Col. Amir Abulafia, on Tuesday promised the chairman of the Binyamin Regional Council, Avi Roeh, that the IDF would retain a permanent presence at the Rimonim junction, even after the roadblock there was removed.
It appears that the IDF realized the grave implications of removing the roadblock. Col. Abulafia said he was aware of the security risks entailed in removing the roadblock, and therefore a permanent presence would remain at the site. Mr. Roeh said that as soon as the IDF left, the Israelis would come back and seize control of it.
Dozens of residents of Kochav Hashahar and Rimonim on Tuesday arrived at the junction to protest against the removal of the roadblock and leaving the lives of the residents of the Israeli settlements in the area unprotected.
The Israelis blocked the road from time to time, preventing Palestinian cars from passing. Four of the young people who blocked the road were detained by the police.
Removal of the Rimonim roadblock gives the Palestinians freedom to drive from Ramallah to Jericho. IDF officers fear that if there is a terrorist attack in the Ramallah area, the attackers can easily get away in the direction of Jericho, with no roadblock to stop them.
David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2008