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Sunday, March 07, 2004

Purim attacks thwarted

Arutz Sheva: The past 48 hours have seen a drastic spike in attempted terror attacks, but just like the Purim story – in which a genocidal plot against the Jewish people resulted in the destruction of the plotters rather than the Jews – the terrorists failed to inflict any damage.

“In addition to reading the Megilla (the Purim story) and delivering mishloach manot (gifts given to one another on Purim) Israel has had to adopt another yearly custom – foiling attempts to carry out terror attacks on Purim.” That is how the noontime IDF Radio broadcast began.

Over the Sabbath, three vehicles, two painted to look like IDF jeeps, took part in what was to have been a major multi-stage terror attack at the Erez Crossing in Gaza. The attack began when the first vehicle, a taxicab loaded with explosives, detonated near an IDF post at the southern entrance of the workers terminal at the Erez industrial zone.

Following that explosion, what looked like two IDF jeeps arrived at the scene. An Arab terrorist jumped out of one of the jeeps and opened fire at an IDF post at the terminal. The soldiers returned fire and threw a hand grenade at the terrorist. The gunman was not hit, returned to the jeep, and both jeeps continued towards the Erez terminal.

The first jeep exploded near a PA roadblock at the entrance to the Erez terminal. The other jeep continued towards the IDF post at the VIP passage of the terminal, and tried unsuccessfully to break through the metal barrier. A gunman wearing an IDF uniform exited the jeep and opened fire at the soldiers inside the post. The soldiers reacted quickly and shot the gunman and a second terrorist inside the jeep dead.

According to PA reports, several PA policemen were injured as result of the explosions. In searches conducted after the incident, two Kalashnikov assault rifles, 10 hand grenades and 10 magazines were discovered. In a press release, the IDF spokesman’s office said, “It is important to stress that thanks to the alertness of the IDF soldiers at the Erez crossing a large-scale attack was prevented. This attempt is evidence of long-term and serious planning of the three terrorist organizations (Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah), to carry out a large-scale attack and target IDF soldiers and Israeli civilians at the Erez crossing.

Following the attack, IDF forces entered the El Buriej slums near Gaza City upon receiving intelligence information about impending attacks emanating from the area. The planned attacks including planting explosive devices and shooting anti-tank missiles at Jewish targets. After IDF troops, escorted by tanks, armored personnel carriers, and helicopters, entered the slums, calls went out over the mosques’ loudspeakers calling upon residents to come out of their homes and fight.

During the operation, intense exchanges of fire erupted between armed terrorists and IDF soldiers. Terrorists fired dozens of anti-tank missiles, along with automatic fire and several explosive devices and grenades towards IDF forces.

PA sources report at least 14 killed and over 60 wounded in the battle. No IDF casualties were reported. In a statement to the press, Chief-of-Staff, Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon stated, “. . . the terrorist organizations endanger the civilian Palestinian population with the use of buildings and infrastructures in the heart of populated areas for their terrorist activities.”

Ya’alon added that this and other operations in recent days have prevented suicide bombing attacks and are part of the ongoing war against terror. He made it clear that such operations would continue if and when they are deemed necessary.

Overnight, a Golani Brigade force uncovered a bomb factory in the village of Anza, north of Jenin. Mortar shells, gunpowder, bomb components, cellular telephones, pesticides and other related items were uncovered.

Elsewhere, security forces remain on a level III alert across the country – taking extra measures to prevent terror attacks. An IDF operation in Ramallah prevented a suicide bombing attack planned for Jerusalem on Saturday night.

Intelligence officials are reporting over 50 terror warnings throughout the country.

Chief-of-Staff, Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon said this morning that it is possible that the recent intensification in terror attacks against Israelis could be related to talk about an impending withdrawal from Gaza.
Maariv reports Yaalon as saying that the Erez checkpoint may have to be closed for good.
“Everything that is happening here leads me to the conclusion that we care about employing the Palestinian families in Gaza more than the terrorist organizations do”, Yaalon said.

He said, “we shall continue to find employment for the 4,000 families in the Erez industrial area and 15,000 families at the crossing. But if terrorism does not let up, we shall have to reconsider operating the crossing.”
Just like in Iraq, where the terrorists are trying to foment civil war between Shiites and Sunni, the Palestinian terrorists are keeping their own people from getting to jobs in Israel, hoping to incite further reaction against Israel. I can't imagine that the Palestinian people don't understand who is threatening their economic lives. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Arafat's al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the attacks.