July 27, 2005
TEL AVIV \u2013 Palestinian terrorists, exploiting Israeli military preparations
for withdrawal from Gaza, have achieved their first successful infiltration
from the area.
Israeli military sources said a would-be Palestinian suicide bomber slipped
past the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip and entered Israel. He
was arrested on July 23 near Kibbutz Nir Am in the western Negev desert.
Military sources said authorities were alerted to the prospect of a
terrorist infiltration. But they said the military did not deploy sufficient forces
in northern Gaza to prevent it.
The terrorist, identified as Jihad Shahada, was said to have planned to
blow himself up in Tel Aviv. They said the 18-year-old Fatah operative was
wearing a five-kilogram explosive belt.
A military statement said Shahada, a resident of the Jabaliya refugee camp
north of Gaza City, was sent by a Fatah operative named Salem Tabat to conduct
a suicide attack in central Tel Aviv. The statement did not cite a specific
Shahada was accompanied by another Palestinian, who was later caught in the
home of a relative in Jaffa. The 25-year-old Palestinian was sent to help
Shahada find a target in Tel Aviv.
This was the second Fatah suicide bombing attempt from the Gaza Strip in as
many months. In June, a 21-year-old woman tried to cross into Israel from
the Erez terminal with a suicide belt. She was arrested without incident.
In 2005, Israel foiled 92 Palestinian infiltration attempts from the Gaza
Strip, military sources said. Most of the infiltrators were detected as they
approached the high tech security fence around Gaza.
The sources said the Israeli military has been struggling to deploy
sufficient manpower to seal the Gaza Strip from Palestinian infiltration. Last week,
about 17,000 army and police troops were sent to southern Israel to prevent
a march to the Gaza Strip by 40,000 withdrawal opponents.
On July 24, the Israeli daily Hatsofe reported that paramilitary forces were
removed from the Egyptian-Gaza border to stop the marchers. As a result, the
newspaper said, the eight-kilometer border was left unprotected at several
In a related development, a recent survey indicated that most Palestinians
attribute Israel`s decision to unilaterally withdraw from the Gaza Strip to
The poll reported that a majority of Palestinians attribute strikes by Hamas
and Islamic Jihad to the decision by Prime Minister Sharon to withdraw from
the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank and evict their 10,000 Jewish
residents. The poll indicated that nearly half of those surveyed want the attacks to
continue \u2013 amounting to an endorsement of Hamas policy,
“[Hamas] rockets have forced Israel to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, and
they will end the occupation in the future,” Hamas chief Mahmoud Zahar said.
The study was conducted by the Center for Opinion Polls and Survey Studies,
based in An Najah University in Nablus. Forty percent of respondents agreed
that “pressure caused by Palestinian resistance” led to the Israeli
Another 34 percent said Israel regarded its presence in the Gaza Strip as a
“security and economic inexpediency.”
Tweny-two percent of respondents did not cite the Palestinian war as a
reason for the Israeli withdrawal. Instead, they said the pullout decision
stemmed from international pressure on Israel.
About 40 percent expressed support for continued attacks on Israel after the
Gaza withdrawal. Fifty-two percent opposed the insurgency campaign and 8.4
percent said they were undecided.
A poll of Israelis reported a decrease in support for Sharon`s Gaza pullout
plan. In a survey of 519 Israeli adults conducted by Tel Aviv University`s
Herzog Institute for Media, Society, and Politics, 48 percent expressed
support for the plan. The poll reported that most of the respondents believed the
withdrawal would bolster Palestinian attacks as well as civil unrest in
Israel. (Reporting by MENL and Jewish Press Israel correspondent Avraham Shmuel