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Mortar Attack on Jerusalem Thwarted, Fears of ‘Gazafication’

By Ezra HaLevi Arutz Sheva February 20, 2006

Kassam rockets struck the Ashkelon power station as security forces announced the capture of a terror cell planning on firing mortar shells upon Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood.

Military censors have permitted the publication of the capture of a group of Fatah terrorists preparing to launch mortar shells at two densely populated Jewish neighborhoods in southern Jerusalem.

The terrorists had acquired eight military-grade mortar shells and a launcher, as well as IDF uniforms and were prepared to fire the shells, which have a one-mile (1.5 km) range, from PA-controlled Beit Jala at Gilo and Har Homa.

Residents of Jerusalem and Gush Etzion insist that the IDF completely retake the entire region in order to prevent the ‘Gazafication’ of Gush Etzion and Jerusalem’s southern neighborhoods. They say it is only a matter of time until Kassam rockets and mortars rain down on the region – especially if the plan to abandon everything behind the Partition Wall to the Palestinian Authority is implemented.

Monday afternoon, a Kassam rocket was fired from Gaza and struck deep inside the Ashkelon Industrial area that is home to the large Rotenberg Power Plant. The rocket landed near a desalination facility, damaging it and two vehicles. Workers in the industrial zone were told to enter bomb shelters.

Another Kassam rocket landed in an open area. Earlier in the day, two other rockets failed to reach Israeli communities and landed inside Gaza.

Islamic Jihad has announced the development of a new rocket with a range of nearly ten miles (15 km), which they also claim has more powerful explosives. Other terror groups also boast the increased quality and range of their rockets, thanks to unhindered development and production since Israel’s retreat from Gaza last summer.

Elsewhere in Judea and Samaria, rock and Molotov cocktail attacks have been on the rise since the rise of Hamas to head the Palestinian Authority.

A young girl was injured lightly Monday afternoon when her school bus was bombarded by Arab rock-throwers near Tekoa, in eastern Gush Etzion – an area slated to be left outside the Partition Wall.

Two Arabs, a man and a woman, were seriously injured Monday night after they threw firebombs at IDF soldiers in the Hevron Hills region. The soldiers returned fire and none of them were injured. The Arab terrorists were transported to Be’er Sheva’s Soroka Medical Center.

A firebomb was also thrown at a home in the hareidi-religious Gush Etzion community of Beitar Illit Monday evening. Beitar Illit is not only slated to be inside the Partition Wall, but is located less than 100 yards from the pre-1967 Green Line.

During a medium-scale counter-terror operation in Shechem Monday, IDF troops discovered a bomb factory, which they blew up in a controlled blast. Monday evening, a terrorist was caught placing a bomb in the Balata area of Shechem intended to kill IDF soldiers in the area. The terrorist was shot and seriously wounded by IDF soldiers operating in the area. A firebomb was also hurled at border police operating in the region. The jeep ignited from the incendiary device, lightly injuring one policeman. Police fired at the attackers in response.

Eleven terrorists were arrested during operation near Jenin, in Tul Karem and in Ramallah and the surrounding areas Monday. Arrested terrorists are from Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Fatah.

An IDF Givati unit force caught two Arabs who had infiltrated into Israel from Sinai overnight. The two had crossed over the northern part of the Israel-Egypt border. They were transferred to the security forces for interrogation.

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