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Kfar Darom in Gush Katif Under Attack

Arutz Sheva May 20, 2005

PA police did nothing to stop terrorist rocket fire at Kfar Darom today, says senior IDF commander. Houses in Kfar Darom hit; no one hurt. Residents marching to Dir el-Balah to establish new outpost

In a multi-pronged attack by Hamas and other Palestinian terrorists, anti-tank rockets and mortar shells were fired at the Gush Katif town of Kfar Darom and nearby army positions. The attack began at around 4 AM, when three terrorists entered an abandoned United Nations Relief Works school, adjacent to Kfar Darom, above which a UN flag still flies.

They began by firing an attention-diverting mortar shell at Kfar Darom, and then let off six anti-tank rockets against IDF and Border Guard positions in the area. Many PA para-military positions are in the area, yet these forces did not respond to the attacks.

IDF Col. Moti Kidor, who commanded today’s battle, said that the terrorists could not have reached the UN building without passing through PA para-military police positions.

Dozens of Kfar Darom residents set off on a march towards the neighboring Arab town of Dir el-Balah at around noon today. They say they are planning to establish a residential outpost at the UN building from where the attacks were launched. “This appears to be the only way to protect our lives,” one said, though they fully expect not to be allowed to remain there for more than a couple of hours.

Not only did the PA police remain inactive during the attack, but the IDF is checking into the possibility that United Nations personnel may have substantially aided the terrorists. The suspicion is that UN agents may have allowed them into the building, located adjacent to an IDF position near Kfar Darom, and may have even helped them gather intelligence on the Jewish town.

In addition, IDF forces in the area did not receive permission to fire at the terrorists until an hour or more into the attack. One terrorist was killed, but two of them escaped, including one who was wounded. An intense exchange of fire then ensued, lasting almost throughout the morning.

On the dead terrorist’s body was found a Kalachnikov rifle, an anti-tank rocket, and a vest full of grenades.

Kfar Darom spokesman Asher Mivtzari said, “Warnings were received as early as yesterday evening that terrorists were planning a large attack against us, but the army did not receive permission to set up ambush forces… Similarly, after today’s attack, a mortar shell directed against us was sighted – but again, permission was not given to take it out. This approach represents a real danger to us, and to the Negev as well.”

“Around 4:00,” Mivtzari said, “they arrived in the UN structure, and began an attack of rockets, shells and mortar fire that lasted a very long time… Only after Kfar Darom was hit – at least three shells exploded in our community – did the tanks in the area receive permission to fire at the terrorists; this delay allowed two terrorists to escape.”

“The fact that no one was hurt is a great miracle,” Mivtzari said, “but it could have been different… It’s been a very long time that the terrorists have dared to come this close to our town… The IDF is not allowed to fire at the PA police, and they take advantage of what they see as our weakness. [Defense Minister Sha’ul] Mofaz spoke yesterday of granting additional concessions, and they see this as weakness on our part.”

The attack on Kfar Darom is the latest and strongest barrage in a bombardment on Gush Katif that began Wednesday afternoon. Over 60 shells and rockets have been fired on the Jewish towns since then, yet only one person was lightly wounded. Six shells were fired at Netzarim, Gadid and N’vei Dekallim over the course of the night, as was a rocket at Rafiah Yam.

The IDF response throughout the bombardment, aside from this morning’s response leading to a massive exchange of fire, was a helicopter strike against one of the rocket-firing cells.

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