MI chief: TA area now under threat of rocket attack from Gaza
Rebecca Anna Stoil and JPost.com staff , THE JERUSALEM POST Nov. 3, 2009
The Tel Aviv area could become the newest target for rockets launched from
the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Amos
Yadlin said Tuesday morning during a briefing of the Knesset's Foreign
Affairs and Defense Committee.
Yadlin said that the IDF had identified at least one test firing in which
Hamas had successfully launched a rocket with a 60-kilometer range into the
He went on to say he is concerned that Hamas has smuggled in Fajr-style
rockets, an Iranian-produced artillery rocket that was also used by
Hizbullah during the Second Lebanon War. It was not clear whether he meant
the Fajr 3, which has a maximum listed range of approximately 50 km or the
Fajr 5, which can reach upwards of 70 kilometers.
The intelligence chief said that despite the increase in Hamas's
capabilities, the recent summer was the quietest in dozens of years for four
reasons: Israeli deterrence, aspirations regarding the Obama
administration's diplomatic policy, the group's focus on force-building and
because of internal struggles that have taken energy from the organizations.
Hamas, he continued, does not want any conflict with Israel so that they can
direct their energies toward strengthening their civil rule in Gaza, but is
still continuing to smuggle weapons in through tunnels across Gaza's
southern border with Egypt.
Hamas, Yadlin warned, is not the only of Israel's enemies to be
strengthening. He said that Iran is funding, training and smuggling weapons
to Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas, and that Iranian weapons are passing through
Turkey and Syria - which he described as a "factory and storehouse" for
weapons - to the Lebanese guerrilla group.
Hizbullah, he continued, is still storing weapons south of the Litani River
in violation of UN Resolution 1701.
Yadlin also commented on the recent revelation made in September by Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Iran was building an additional nuclear
enrichment facility in the Shi'a holy city of Qom.
That facility, Yadlin emphasized, is not intended for civilian purposes, and
he added that the enrichment carried out at this newly-revealed second
facility will aid Iran in shortening the amount of time that it will take to
acquire the necessary amount of enriched uranium to produce nuclear weapons.
Also discussing Hamas on Tuesday, Minister-Without-Portfolio Bennie Begin
said that the Islamist group was "in effect, an extension of Iran" and that
Hizbullah was another such extension.
During an Army Radio interview on Tuesday, Begin said that when Israel
disengaged from Gaza in 2005, "people assumed that the international
community would not hold Israel accountable for what occurred there
anymore." After the disengagement, he said, Hamas took over the Gaza Strip
and began to fire rockets into Israeli territory.
Begin asserted that "although the cities of the South are no different from
Tel Aviv," 60-kilometer missile ranges showed that Hamas was "continually
striving" for greater military capabilities.
"As long as there is no comprehensive agreement concerning border crossings,
the deterrence we achieved during Operation Cast Lead will grow weaker," he
During Operation Cast Lead last winter, Grad-type rockets, Kassam rockets,
and mortar shells were fired into Israeli territory, with projectiles
hitting Beersheba, some 40 kilometers from the Strip.
Though rocket fire from the Strip has decreased since the three-week
offensive, weapons are continually smuggled through tunnels along the
Philadelphi Corridor, on Gaza's southern border with Egypt.
AP contributed to this report