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Report: Hamas Preparing to Overrun Gaza


Hamas has enlisted hundreds of volunteers for its people's army in Gaza, preparing for the unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the area as proposed by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's unilateral Gaza disengagement plan. Hamas is taking Sharon seriously according to Ma'ariv, and is training forces and stockpiling weapons, preparing to overrun Gaza following the IDF pullout. Israeli officials see Hamas as working tenaciously to be ready to make a move following the security vacuum that would exist following a unilateral Israeli move, indicating it plans to take control of the area.

Numerous Purim Attacks Thwarted

By & Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

This past weekend has seen a drastic spike in attempted terror attacks, but just like the Purim story - in which a genocidal plot against the Jewish people resulted in the destruction of the plotters rather than the Jews - the terrorists failed to inflict any damage.

Israeli troops killed at least 15 Palestinians during fierce gun-battles with militants during raids into two refugee camps in the Gaza Strip. At least three children and 10 known Palestinian terrorists are reported to be among the dead. The Israeli army said at least 10 of those killed in the two operations were members of Hamas, a group that has carried out frequent suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks in Israel.

Both Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, another group classified by the State Department as a terrorist organization, have promised they will kill more Israelis to retaliate for the operation.

Over the Sabbath, three vehicles, two painted to look like IDF jeeps, took part in what was to have been a major multi-stage terror attack at the Erez Crossing in Gaza. The attack began when the first vehicle, a taxicab loaded with explosives, detonated near an IDF post at the southern entrance of the workers terminal at the Erez industrial zone.

Following that explosion, what looked like two IDF jeeps arrived at the scene. An Arab terrorist jumped out of one of the jeeps and opened fire at an IDF post at the terminal. The soldiers returned fire and threw a hand grenade at the terrorist. The gunman was not hit, returned to the jeep, and both jeeps continued towards the Erez terminal.

The first jeep exploded near a PA roadblock at the entrance to the Erez terminal. The other jeep continued towards the IDF post at the VIP passage of the terminal, and tried unsuccessfully to break through the metal barrier. A gunman wearing an IDF uniform exited the jeep and opened fire at the soldiers inside the post. The soldiers reacted quickly and shot the gunman and a second terrorist inside the jeep dead.

According to PA reports, several PA policemen were injured as result of the explosions. In searches conducted after the incident, two Kalashnikov assault rifles, 10 hand grenades and 10 magazines were discovered. In a press release, the IDF spokesman's office said, "It is important to stress that thanks to the alertness of the IDF soldiers at the Erez crossing a large-scale attack was prevented. This attempt is evidence of long-term and serious planning of the three terrorist organizations (Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah), to carry out a large-scale attack and target IDF soldiers and Israeli civilians at the Erez crossing.

Following the attack, IDF forces entered the El Buriej slums near Gaza City upon receiving intelligence information about impending attacks emanating from the area. The planned attacks including planting explosive devices and shooting anti-tank missiles at Jewish targets. After IDF troops, escorted by tanks, armored personnel carriers, and helicopters, entered the slums, calls went out over the mosques' loudspeakers calling upon residents to come out of their homes and fight.

During the operation, intense exchanges of fire erupted between armed terrorists and IDF soldiers. Terrorists fired dozens of anti-tank missiles, along with automatic fire and several explosive devices and grenades towards IDF forces.

Hamas Says Sharon will Leave Gaza 'Vanquished'

By Ha'aretz

The terrorist group Hamas has vowed to avenge the deaths of 15 Palestinians killed in an Israel Defense Forces operation in two Gaza Strip refugee camps on Sunday morning. The group on Sunday evening published a statement saying "Sharon will pay a heavy price, God-willing, and will only leave the Gaza Strip vanquished and defeated."

The IDF raid came one day after militants mounted an elaborate attack at the Erez Crossing on the Israel-Gaza border. Among the dead were at least four children between the ages of 11 and 16 years old. Palestinians said that some 80 people were injured in the raids, some of them in critical condition. Islamic Jihad also vowed to avenge the deaths.

Palestinian cabinet minister Saeb Erekat condemned Sunday's raid, calling for a return to negotiations on the U.S.-backed road map peace plan. "At a time when they're speaking about withdrawing from Gaza, they're destroying Gaza," Erekat said.

The Palestinian Authority warned that Israel would pay the price for the deadly raid, Army Radio reported. The Palestinian cabinet called the operation a terrorist massacre and alleged that Israel was purposely escalating violence in the territories ahead of its unilateral withdrawal from the area. The cabinet denounced the raids as "state terror against our people" which undermined Palestinian calls for a mutual ceasefire and revival of the road map.

IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon told reporters during a tour of the Erez Crossing between Israel and Gaza on Sunday that he could not rule out the possibility that the recent increase in the number of terror attacks is connected to talk about Israel's planned withdrawal from the territories.

Israeli commentators have speculated the army would step up operations against militant groups in the Gaza Strip before Prime Minister Ariel Sharon puts into motion an evolving plan to evacuate settlements in the area.

Police Worry Foreign Workers May Be Used in Terror Attacks

By Israel Faxx News Services

Security sources are concerned that Israel's foreign workers could be recruited by terrorist organizations to facilitate attacks on Israelis, according to Ma'ariv. The concern stems from the fact that recent figures show many of the workers are Muslim and have increasingly chosen to reside in Palestinian Authority controlled areas.

The fear is that while some Muslim workers may be ideologically driven to assist in terror attacks, the greater danger lies in terror groups using large sums of money to dupe workers into participating in terror attacks. The workers, many earning minimum wage and hiding from immigration authorities by living in the P.A. would take the money in return for performing seemingly innocuous tasks - such as delivering a package to a busy thoroughfare - unintentionally carrying out potentially fatal attacks.

Police in Yesha (Judea, Samaria and Gaza) believe that there remains likelihood that terror groups could recruit such workers. "The fatal combination of fast, easy money, and the mobility and sometimes sheer innocence of foreign workers, could lead to the next attack," a senior officer from the Sharon region told Ma'ariv. "We are discovering more and more connections between foreign workers and terror and we must do something before it is too late."

Government estimates are that about 180,000 of the 260,000 foreign workers in Israel are in the country illegally. Though most came with work permits, many overstayed their visas and others left harsh employers for illegal jobs and live in fear of arrest and deportation. It is widely regarded that Israel's unemployment problem would be greatly alleviated if foreign workers were replaced with Israeli citizens; with unemployment subsidies re-allocated to make the job that workers currently fill more financially desirable to Israelis.

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