NEW YORK – The long-range missiles that hit the Israeli city of Ashkelon today were developed by Palestinian Arab terrorists during the so-called cease-fire, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) points out, noting with dismay that the Bush administration refrained from pressing the Palestinian Authority to action against the missiles, even though they were being tested openly in the PA-controlled Gaza Strip.
The Israeli and other media repeatedly reported that the terrorists were testing such missiles. For example:
* Asked about Israels protests that the terrorists were using the cease-fire to develop missiles and other weapons for future use, Mohammed al-Hindi, leader of Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, told the Scottish newspaper The Scotsman (August 10, 2003): It is natural that we strengthen ourselves during hudna [the cease-fire]. It is natural that the Palestinians, Fatah, the Islamic Jihad, Hamas, be ready to defend their people in the coming stages.
* Middle East Newsline reported (July 31, 2003): Israeli military intelligence officials said Hamas has been firing the new missile as part of efforts to develop a Kassam with a range of up to 20 kilometers. The officials said the missile firings take place nearly nightly north of Gaza City toward the Mediterranean Sea. Hamas has sought to develop a missile with a range long enough to strike a major Israeli city. The officials said the Hamas target appears to be Ashkelon, the city closest to the Gaza Strip. Ashkelon also contains a major power station. We know that this missile can reach a range of 14 kilometers, an Israeli official said. But Hamas wants something that can strike Ashkelon from the northern Gaza Strip and this would require a range of at least 20 kilometers.
* A senior Israeli Army officer told the Jerusalem Post (July 21, 2003) that Hamas is utilizing the cease-fire to build more than 1,000 Kassam rockets The Palestinian Authority is doing nothing to stop the smuggling of huge amounts of arms, weapons, and ammunition Sometimes they arrest a militant under the most comfortable conditions possible and release him within hours. The longest a militant has been held, is four days.
After the missiles this week hit Ashkelon, a major Israeli city within the pre-1967 borders, Israeli defense officials confirmed to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz (Aug.28, 2003) that Hamas militants utilized the hudna [cease-fire] to extend the range of the Qassam rockets The usual Qassam target is Sderot, which lies across from the Gaza Strip. But the Israeli Army believes that Hamas took advantage of the Palestinian cease-fire, which was called off last week, to work on increasing the range of its rockets by conducting trial launches aimed at the Mediterranean.
Morton A. Klein, National President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), said: The terrorists were openly testing long-range missiles, yet the Bush administration never insisted that the PA take actioneven though such action is specifically required by President Bushs own Road Map. The administrations silence sent a message to the PA that there would be no consequences for its violations, despite the obvious danger posed to Americas ally, Israel, by the development of the missiles.