Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Israelis take out 9 jihadis in Gaza; Halutz warns against fortified tunnel networks

The boys in the IDF had a busy day yesterday.

10 Qassam missiles were fired from Gaza into Israel over the last two days and the IDF launched an offensive to smoke the rats out of their holes. The Israelis engaged in a major firefight with the Palestinians and ended up killing 9 of them, including
Ata Shinbari, a senior Palestinian terrorist chief. Shinbari was a senior commander of the Popular Resistance Committees, a Hamas branch that's active in the missile offensive and was Hamas’ partner in kidnapping Israeli soldier Gideon Shalit in June. Another three Palestinian fighters were killed in a shootout with Israel soldiers taking out arms smuggling tunnels on the strategic Philadelphi corridor in the south Gaza Strip. The IDF had no casualties.

Of course, `moderate' Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas accused the Israelis of perpetrating `a massacre on the first day of Eid el Fitr', the holiday that ends Ramadan. Damn those Jews for shooting back and trying to stop the Palestinians from lauching missiles into Israel!

Abbas also conveniently forgot that according to the Qu'ran, good Muslims aren't supposed to be fighting (or launching rockets at civilians) during the sacred months ..but we'll let that pass. That's what I love about Islam - anything that smacks of peaceloving behavior is always conditional.

The IDF, led by its IDF Bedouin scout units has unearthed 13 Palestinian smuggling tunnels this week in the Philadelphi-Rafah sector. This has had an effect on the Hamas arms buildup, but it's not decisive because most of the active tunnels have now been relocated to the west of this border sector. They are used by the Palestinians for moving contraband arms into the Gaza Strip by sea and land, although the Israeli navy has intercepted some of this traffic, mostly small vessels sailing from the northern coast of Egyptian Sinai.

Most of the new tunnels are located in the former locations of Israeli Mediterranean settlements.

According to Israeli Chief of Staff Gen. Dan Halutz,the Palestinians are building fortified tunnels in these areas, similar to the fortifications Hezbollah used in lebanon. That's probably no accident, since Syrian, Iranian and Hezbollah trainers are now instructing the Palestinians in tactics and, according to a briefing Halutz gave to the Knesset foreign affairs and security committee, anti-tank rockets similar to those used against Israeli forces in Lebanon, have turned up in the Gaza Strip.

The conventional wisdom of a lot of the Israeli military establishment is that the disengagement from Gaza was a huge mistake and that it will be necessary to reoccupy it. This is kept pretty much under the surface for obvious reasons...the Olmert government can't exactly admit that Israel’s September 2005 retreat from the Gaza Strip’s Egyptian border was a major blunder, since most of the incumbents either supported it or actually had a part in executing it as part of Ariel Sharon’s government. Likewise, all those wonderful security arrangements put together by US Secretery of State Condi Rice involving Egypt, Israel and the Palestinians have completely broken down and proved useless.

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