New York – The Head of Shin Bet (Israels Security Agency), Yuval Diskin, has revealed that there has been a massive increase in the smuggling of weaponry by Palestinian terrorist groups into Gaza since Israels withdrew from Gaza last year and Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff, Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz, has disclosed that Palestinian rocket attacks are increasing in number and range in recent months. Addressing the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday, Diskin said, The amount of weapons and explosives smuggled into the Gaza Strip from Egypt has grown drastically, by more than 300 percent If before the disengagement they smuggled in 200 to 300 rifles a month, they are now smuggling in close to 3,000.
Diskin also observed that Palestinians have smuggled three anti-aircraft missiles into Gaza, something they had not succeeded in doing before the unilateral pull out of Gaza, in addition to nearly 200 rocket propelled grenades, 350 anti-tank missiles and tons of explosives being smuggled in monthly. The Palestinians, Diskin said, are also drafting plans for large-scale terror attacks that include digging tunnels from Gaza into Israel. Perhaps most ominously, Diskin warned that with external assistance, Palestinian terrorist groups would have long-range rocket capability within a matter of months (Jerusalem Post, January 10 & 11).
According to the Shin Bet chief, terror groups have used the lull to increase their power, including military and Qassam range improvements. If the Palestinians are to receive technology assistance outside of Gaza, it would only take a number of months for the terror groups to succeed in significantly improving their rocket range, he said, adding that at present Qassams launched in the PA are able to reach 10-40 kilometers (6-25 miles).
The Palestinians are preparing terror attacks, also from Judea and Samaria. There are efforts to establish independent systems to manufacture weapons, including Qassams, Diskin said.
A significant increase in terror attacks and attempted bombings against Israel has been noted since the pullout, he explained. In October 48 were registered, in comparison to 277 in December. Israel must be firm about the disarmament of terror groups and Hamas. If this does not occur, the Shin Bet recommends discontinuing dialogue or not holding contact with the Palestinian Authority Allowing them weaponry would be a walking time bomb (Ynet, January 10).
In a briefing to journalists on Monday, IDF Chief of Staff Halutz discussed the continuing Qassem rocket attacks upon Israel, noting that rockets have hit the western Negev, Kibbutz Nir Am, Kibbutz Nahal Oz, and Highway 34 near Sderot, and also confirmed that the terrorists are perfecting missiles with an even longer range (Jerusalem Post, January 11, 2005).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, These deeply worrying statements from two of the most senior officials responsible for Israeli security indicate that the security situation in Gaza is continually deteriorating. It is not an overstatement to say that Palestinian terrorist groups possessing anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles drastically worsens the security of Israel. Additionally, Israeli aircraft, both civilian and military, are in danger in way that was not the case before the Gaza pull-out.
Israel is being hit by salvoes of rockets launched from Gaza and now capable of hitting deep inside Israel. It has even been reported that Israels water company has stopped injecting chlorine gas at a facility near the Gaza Strip out of fear that Palestinian-fired rockets would hit tanks holding the potentially deadly substance. As Zeev Schiff, the respected military analyst has said, the continuation of Palestinian rocket attacks testifies to the failure of deterrence In the Gaza Strip the security forces have also not succeeded in locating the workshops that produce the Qassams, and most of the metal shops and rocket developers have not been hit. This situation simply cannot be allowed to deteriorate further. Gen. Halutz has previously rejected the idea that there is no military solution to terrorism, saying that the IDF could bring it down close to zero. We urge the Israeli government to take action to reverse this terrible slide into increased danger for Israel.