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Gaza Horrors

05/19/2004

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has erupted again. It has simmered for some months against a "dull routine" of Israeli incursions and assassinations on the one hand, and Palestinian terror attacks, attempted terror attacks and hate propaganda on the other. This activity occurs almost every day, even on days when you may think there is "no news" about Israel or Palestine. Even on those days there are Palestinians being humiliated at checkpoints, terrorists being apprehended on the way to suicide missions, and perhaps an Israeli incursion that may or may not cost a life leave a few wounded. All of this grim routine of death and suffering is usually submerged in the news by accounts of fine speeches and announcements of diplomatic initiatives.

The latest round began with an Israeli drive into Gaza intended to stop weapons smuggling and arrest or kill malefactors, and most likely, to boot Ariel Sharon's image as a hardliner, in order to push his disengagement solution. After 11 Israeli soldiers were killed by Palestinian booby traps, a second round was initiated by the IDF, which includes an all out assault on the town of Rafah and house demolitions. Nobody knows what house demolitions are planned or why, since the IDF announcements change every day. First the IDF claimed that they needed to demolish the houses in order to widen the Rafah patrol road. To the Israeli Supreme Court they said they would only be demolishing houses used by snipers. Then they announced again that they were widening the road. Then they announced that they had given up the plan to widen the road, but that some houses of people who had committed terror attacks would be demolished. Now the government has formed a committee to study the question of widening the Philadelphi patrol road. Meanwhile, thousands of Palestinians fled their homes in anticipation of the demolitions and the Israeli incursion.Israeli actions, intentions and rumors of intentions have been roundly denounced by the EU, various US officials. and the UN. More denunciations are in the works. It is difficult to understand what anyone thought they could gain by this show of force, except to prove conclusively that there really is no military solution.

Now the violence escalated dramatically, when an Israeli missile attack (or tank shelling, or other violence) killed a large number of Palestinians (at least 10 by current count), mostly schoolchildren, and wounded many others. Cynics will say that with Ariel Sharon as Prime Minister, it was only a matter of time before there was a really inexcusable massacre.

The worst may be yet to come. Each massacre leads to a bigger and better massacre. The real toll of operations such as this one will be exacted in the accumulated tally of hate and the retaliations that will invariably follow.

If it wasn't clear to everyone why Israel must get out of Gaza before the latest fiasco, it should be clear now. Perhaps that is the point that Ariel Sharon was trying to make. Meanwhile, Sharon is about to unveil his revised disengagement plan. As I predicted, it is a slightly changed version of the original plan. However, the new plan has features that make it less attractive and perhaps unworkable. The abandoned houses of settlers may be razed rather than turned over to Palestinians. It is a senseless destruction of property that could be used to help build some confidence. Perhaps demolishing has become an ideological goal of the government in itself, regardless of whether they are Palestinian houses or Israeli houses to be given to Palestinians. If we insist every Palestinian is a potential terrorist, then of course it makes sense to plan ahead and demolish the houses of all potential terrorists, no? The plan also contemplates an international force in Gaza, with US and UN involvement. Since the US is hardly likely to commit soldiers to Gaza and since UN forces have long been anathema in Israel, especially to the Sharon government, the suspiscion arises that Sharon may not be serious about implementing this plan at all, and that it is just a smokescreen for murderous operations like this one.

Ami Isseroff

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Replies: 17 comments

[obscene and belligerent comment deleted - ed.]

Posted by PeaceMaker @ 05/19/2004 10:09 PM CST

It becomes clear that the Palestinian policy of armed men using civilian protesters as human shields has fueled another tragedy. How long will the Palestinian people tolerate armed men who hide behind the skirts of women and the bodies of children as a military tactic.

IDF Spokesperson Wednesday 19 May 2005
www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Government/Communiques/2004/Rafah+Incident+19-May-2004.ht
m

Today's incident in Rafah is a very grave incident and the IDF expresses
deep sorrow over the loss of civilian lives.

At no point in this incident was intentional fire opened in the direction of
civilians.

A large procession of several hundreds demonstrators, among them gunmen,
organized by the Palestinian Authority, left central Rafah along the main
road towards IDF forces in Tel-Sultan.

As the crowd, with the gunmen among them, drew near IDF forces, a warning
fire of a single missile was fired from a helicopter into an open area, not
towards the demonstrators.

In addition, flares were fired in the air to deter the crowd and to prevent
endangering the demonstrators. As this did not deter the crowd and they
continued to converge on the troops, machine gun fire was opened towards a
wall of an abandoned structure along the side of the road and then four tank
shells were fired at this abandoned structure.

It is possible that the causalities were a result of the tank fire on the
abandoned structure. The details of the incident continue to be
investigated.

It should be mentioned that the scene of the incident is an area of combat
and an area of frequent exchanges of fire. The road has been rigged with
explosive charges planted by the Palestinians. The IDF has not yet cleared
the road of these explosives.

At this stage it is difficult to determine the cause of the civilian
casualties. The incident is being investigated thoroughly at this time.

The IDF has approached the Palestinians and offered medical assistance,
including the evacuation of the casualties to Israeli hospitals.

Posted by Jim @ 05/19/2004 10:42 PM CST

How long will it take before the media (and Ami) to understand that casualty reports from palestinian sources are ALWAYS massively inflated.

The original story mailed out to subscribers described 23 dead, almost entirely children. The latest count is 7. Five of those were actually gunmen.

And no - it is not clear what Israel will gain by pulling out of Gaza. When it withdrew (retreated)from Lebanon (in the middle of the night), all Israel got for appeasing the world's leftists was the Oslo war, and tens of thousands of rockets planted by Hizbulla in the territory they vacated.

=================================

PA Inflated Figures - Actually 7 Killed - Of Which 5 Armed Men - Killed In
Rafah Incident

Aaron Lerner Date: 19 May 2004

Israel Television Channel One defense correspondent Yoav Limor reports from
a senior Israeli defense source that it now turns out that seven
Palestinians were killed in the incident this afternoon in Rafah - of which
5 were armed Palestinians.

Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(Mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-3-7255730
INTERNET ADDRESS: imra@netvision.net.il

Posted by Rick @ 05/19/2004 11:36 PM CST

Why is it in this day and age that two nations cannot accept their differences and realize that they are just continuing to feed the fear and horror that is daily life in the middle east? May we all pray for an end to conflict in all nations.

Posted by chris Luttrell @ 05/20/2004 03:01 AM CST

Jim, Rick, I take it the IDF boys are just really, really bad shots what with all the practise they get I would have thought their aim would improve.

I take it you agree with legislator Yuval Steinitz, a hard-line member of the Likud Party, who said Palestinian militants pushed the demonstrators into a war zone and thus bore responsibility for the consequences.

"It's absurd that the blame will be attributed to those who fire a missile and not to those who sent the hundreds of civilians to meet it," Steinitz said in an interview.

How long will it take people to realise that the IDF massively deflate civilain casualty numbers?

Posted by Dave @ 05/20/2004 12:52 PM CST

Here is some background on the weapons-smuggling in Rafah.
17 May 2004 The area along the "Philadelphia Route," between the Palestinian and Egyptian towns of Rafah, has been used during recent years as the main pipeline for transporting weapons and ammunition into the Gaza Strip, which are used to carry out terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers. (Communicated by the IDF Spokesman)

General xBackground

The Oslo Accords signed in 1994-1995 granted the Palestinian Authority control over most of the Gaza Strip. The agreements specify that the IDF will continue to control a narrow strip between the area under Palestinian control and the border with Egypt, called the "Philadelphi Route." On both sides of the route are the towns of Palestinian Rafah and Egyptian Rafah.

During the ensuing years, the area has been used for smuggling, and rapidly became the main pipeline for transporting weapons and ammunition into the Gaza Strip. The smuggled weapons, which account for the majority of the weaponry in the Gaza Strip, are then used for carrying out terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers. Currently, the area is being used for smuggling weapons, *****, goods and lately, human beings.

Tunnel uncovered along the Philadelphia Route

Entrance to tunnel uncovered in home in Rafah

Ý

The City of Rafah

The smuggling business began in Rafah during the 1980's, due to the city's economic condition and geographic location. The smuggling is carried out mainly through tunnels dug under the border ’Ä while in the past smuggling took place overland as well.

Parallel to the smuggling industry in the area, the extremist Islamic infrastructure also developed, which increased the involvement of the residents in terrorist and smuggling activity.

The economic element comprises an important factor in channeling local residents and families into the weapons and ammunition smuggling industry. During this period, a large-scale smuggling industry developed in Rafah.

This industry comprises a primary source of income for entire families, and is the main source of income in the area. Due to the lucrative economic aspects of this industry, a power struggle has been raging between different clans and tribes over control of the smuggling.

I: The Process of Constructing Tunnels

The method of tunnel construction is complex and has evolved numerous times throughout the years. Currently, the construction of tunnels is overseen by Palestinian residents of Rafah who have specialized in this area over the years.

The smugglers in Rafah are now experts in digging tunnels and smuggling weapons. They smugglers transport weapons for terrorist organizations, or for other elements that order firearms in exchange for money, and transfer money to Palestinians and Egyptians who own the house or land while the tunnel is dug.

They are adept at how to avoid detection of the tunnels, thus they build them in residential areas and use small children to construct the tunnels and smuggle the weapons.

How to build a weapon smuggling tunnelÝ

1) Locate a landowner who agrees to provide his house for the exit of a tunnel.

2) Search for a suitable opening for the tunnel on the Egyptian side. The tunnel opening should be located in a house or within private property, to allow the owner of the house to cross from one side to the other; to abide by agreements with Egyptian officials; for economic reasons, and to prevent discovery of the tunnel by Egyptian officials.

3) Choosing an engineer: An engineer specializing in the excavation of tunnels is chosen. The engineer mobilizes and recruits individuals to construct the tunnel, and provides electric and hand-held tools for the job.

4) Duration of the excavation: The duration of the excavation may last anywhere from two weeks to two months based on the following conditions:

×í’Ǩ¢ÝThe number of workers digging. ×í’Ǩ¢ÝExcavation equipment. ×í’Ǩ¢ÝDepth and length of the tunnel. ×í’Ǩ¢ÝWidth of the tunnel.ÝÝ

Instructions for excavating the tunnel:

1) Secrecy: Ensure that the building area of the tunnel construction remains secret. Do not allow members of any other family or clan to discover the tunnel.

2) Work at night: To guarantee that the tunnel is not discovered, and to conceal excavation activity from the IDF.

3) Transporting tunnel material: Transport the sand from the excavation activity away from the site in a vehicle.

Smuggling Methods:

1) Egyptian smugglers leave the merchandise at the entrance to the tunnel and depart.

2) Palestinian smugglers cross to the Egyptian side of the tunnel, and/or load the weapons on a trolley and tow it to the Palestinian side.

3) After the use of the tunnel, the underground passage is concealed to prevent discovery.

II: Activity carried Out by terrorist Organizations and their relationship with the Palestinian Authority

The Hamas

The Hamas terrorist organization utilizes the Rafah area to arm its members throughout the Gaza Strip. This effort is aided by senior Hamas members and terrorist organizations in various countries ×í’Ǩ’Äú which transport weapons throughout the Gaza Strip via the Rafah tunnels. It also carries out hostile terrorist activity against IDF forces in the area.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine

During the current armed conflict, the PFLP has smuggled weapons and explosives to the Gaza Strip. This effort is aided by Iranian officials, as part of Iranian efforts to bolster the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. Iranian officials have smuggled weapons to the PFLP, and maintain close contact with supporters based in Egypt.

The role of the Palestinian Authority since in the beginning of the current armed conflict

The Palestinian Authority has aided the above-mentioned terrorist activity since the beginning of the current armed conflict. For example, the Palestinian Authority has encouraged residents to conceal tunnels in their homes, which results in the demolition of their houses.

Today, the demolition of a house in which a tunnel has been uncovered, brings with it an ample windfall, as well as the construction of a new house ×í’Ǩ’Äú built of concrete in the neighborhood of Tel-Sultan by the Palestinian Authority. As a result, residents have even begun to construct fictious tunnels, and spread rumors about tunnels located under their houses in order to receive compensation from the Palestinian Authority after their home is demolished. Thus, the Palestinian Authority encourages the smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip.

During the entire cease-fire period, the Palestinian Authority failed to deal with the smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip, as it should have. This smuggling, during the cease-fire, served to arm the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip and strengthen the terrorist infrastructure in the area.

Palestinian Authority efforts to re-arm

During the current armed conflict, the Palestinian Authority itself, through the ×í’ǨÔø‡rearmament network,×í’ǨÔø‡ has been active in smuggling weapons into the Gaza Strip via tunnels.

Weapons Smuggled into the Gaza Strip since January 2003

Since January 2003 large amounts of diverse weapons have been smuggled into the Gaza Strip, among them:

×í’Ǩ¢ÝDozens of RPG rockets and launchers ×í’Ǩ¢ÝHundreds of kilograms of explosives ×í’Ǩ¢ÝHundreds of rifles (mainly AK-47 Kalashnikovs) ×í’Ǩ¢ÝTens of thousands of bullets and other ammunition ×í’Ǩ¢ÝThousands of cartridges ×í’Ǩ¢ÝEfforts are made to smuggle in more advanced kinds of weapons.

III: IDF Activity

During the past year and a half, IDF forces have acted forcefully to prevent smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip.

Construction of a physical blockade

In order to create a continuous cover of observation and fire, and as well as a physical blockade, a wall was erected. As part of the wall, the Termit and Hardon outposts were established.

Targeted activity to uncover and demolish tunnels

Since September 2000, the IDF has uncovered and demolished approximately 90 tunnels.

×í’Ǩ¢ÝDuring 2003, the IDF has uncovered and demolished over 40 tunnels as well as a large number of houses and buildings from where the tunnels emerged. ×í’Ǩ¢ÝSince the beginning of 2004, the IDF has uncovered and demolished 11 tunnels as well as a number of houses and buildings from where the tunnels emerged.Ý

Appendix A: Interview with Palestinian smuggler

On August 10, 2002, the Islamic web portal, "Islam Online," published an interview with an individual named "Honey."

Honey identified himself as an active "expert" in the excavation of clandestine subterranean passages in the Rafah area, and described how he and his friends dug tunnels in which Palestinian terrorist organizations smuggled arms. Ý Determining the most suitable location for a tunnel

After determining the most suitable location to begin work, engineers survey the ground, which must be of a firm, and not overly sandy consistency. The further the point of origin is from the (Israeli) border, the less chance there is of being caught.

How the tunnels are dug

A pit is dug one meter wide and between twelve to fourteen meters deep. Supports are placed on the sides of the pit. The pit is dug to a depth of at least twelve meters so that Israeli detection devices cannot detect tunnels at this depth. The tunnel is dug horizontally so that it has a width of forty centimeters by forty centimeters. Every three meters wooden planks are placed alongside the four sides of the tunnels so it doesn't collapse. Various mechanical devices are used to overcome natural obstacles like rock, including a machine that removes sand via suction. An electrical cable is hung in the tunnel to provide lighting.

Security precautions

The work is conducted clandestinely. The sand is not removed all at one time, but is placed in flour bags and transported to a remote location. A lookout is posted at the entrance to the tunnel to ensure that the work continues unimpeded. The completion of one tunnel takes three months or more. The last tunnel we built took three months. The workers who build a tunnel receive a percentage of the profit generated from smuggling weapons.

Between six to twelve meters are dug every day. The last tunnel we dug was two hundred and thirty meters long. At either end of the tunnel there is a "work manager;" the two work managers maintain contact by code, usually via phone. The workers on the Egyptian side direct where the tunnel exit will be. The exit from the Palestinian side is steep (a straight vertical shaft), while it is gradually inclined on the Egyptian side.

Construction of a tunnel costs a minimum of $10,000. The minimal cost for smuggling weapons is $300 and the money is split between the five partners for building and maintaining the tunnels.

Smuggling method

If someone is interested in smuggling weapons, he makes a coded request and the workers schedule the date for the smuggling operation. The codes and passwords are transferred via [land-line] phones and cellular phones. The transfer from one side to the other takes between five to ten minutes and is carried out using an engine which pulls a rope.

Smuggling prices

The following prices vary according to location and item.

×í’Ǩ¢ÝPerson: $1,000 ×í’Ǩ¢ÝAK-47 assault rifle from Egypt to Gaza: 2,000 Egyptian liras ×í’Ǩ¢ÝAK-47 assault rifle within Gaza: $1,000 ×í’Ǩ¢ÝAK-47 bullet from Egypt to Gaza: 0.5 Egyptian Liras. ×í’Ǩ¢ÝAK-47 bullet within Gaza: $3

Source of weapons:

Egypt, Iraq, Sudan, and the Salom area in Libya.

Ý

Appendix B: Map of seized smuggling plan. Here is some background on the weapons-smuggling in Rafah. 17 May 2004 The area along the "Philadelphia Route," between the Palestinian and Egyptian towns of Rafah, has been used during recent years as the main pipeline for transporting weapons and ammunition into the Gaza Strip, which are used to carry out terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers. (Communicated by the IDF Spokesman)

General xBackground

The Oslo Accords signed in 1994-1995 granted the Palestinian Authority control over most of the Gaza Strip. The agreements specify that the IDF will continue to control a narrow strip between the area under Palestinian control and the border with Egypt, called the "Philadelphi Route." On both sides of the route are the towns of Palestinian Rafah and Egyptian Rafah.

During the ensuing years, the area has been used for smuggling, and rapidly became the main pipeline for transporting weapons and ammunition into the Gaza Strip. The smuggled weapons, which account for the majority of the weaponry in the Gaza Strip, are then used for carrying out terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers. Currently, the area is being used for smuggling weapons, *****, goods and lately, human beings.

Tunnel uncovered along the Philadelphia Route

Entrance to tunnel uncovered in home in Rafah

Ý

The City of Rafah

The smuggling business began in Rafah during the 1980's, due to the city's economic condition and geographic location. The smuggling is carried out mainly through tunnels dug under the border ’Ä while in the past smuggling took place overland as well.

Parallel to the smuggling industry in the area, the extremist Islamic infrastructure also developed, which increased the involvement of the residents in terrorist and smuggling activity.

The economic element comprises an important factor in channeling local residents and families into the weapons and ammunition smuggling industry. During this period, a large-scale smuggling industry developed in Rafah.

This industry comprises a primary source of income for entire families, and is the main source of income in the area. Due to the lucrative economic aspects of this industry, a power struggle has been raging between different clans and tribes over control of the smuggling.

I: The Process of Constructing Tunnels

The method of tunnel construction is complex and has evolved numerous times throughout the years. Currently, the construction of tunnels is overseen by Palestinian residents of Rafah who have specialized in this area over the years.

The smugglers in Rafah are now experts in digging tunnels and smuggling weapons. They smugglers transport weapons for terrorist organizations, or for other elements that order firearms in exchange for money, and transfer money to Palestinians and Egyptians who own the house or land while the tunnel is dug.

They are adept at how to avoid detection of the tunnels, thus they build them in residential areas and use small children to construct the tunnels and smuggle the weapons.

How to build a weapon smuggling tunnelÝ

1) Locate a landowner who agrees to provide his house for the exit of a tunnel.

2) Search for a suitable opening for the tunnel on the Egyptian side. The tunnel opening should be located in a house or within private property, to allow the owner of the house to cross from one side to the other; to abide by agreements with Egyptian officials; for economic reasons, and to prevent discovery of the tunnel by Egyptian officials.

3) Choosing an engineer: An engineer specializing in the excavation of tunnels is chosen. The engineer mobilizes and recruits individuals to construct the tunnel, and provides electric and hand-held tools for the job.

4) Duration of the excavation: The duration of the excavation may last anywhere from two weeks to two months based on the following conditions:

×í’Ǩ¢ÝThe number of workers digging. ×í’Ǩ¢ÝExcavation equipment. ×í’Ǩ¢ÝDepth and length of the tunnel. ×í’Ǩ¢ÝWidth of the tunnel.ÝÝ

Instructions for excavating the tunnel:

1) Secrecy: Ensure that the building area of the tunnel construction remains secret. Do not allow members of any other family or clan to discover the tunnel.

2) Work at night: To guarantee that the tunnel is not discovered, and to conceal excavation activity from the IDF.

3) Transporting tunnel material: Transport the sand from the excavation activity away from the site in a vehicle.

Smuggling Methods:

1) Egyptian smugglers leave the merchandise at the entrance to the tunnel and depart.

2) Palestinian smugglers cross to the Egyptian side of the tunnel, and/or load the weapons on a trolley and tow it to the Palestinian side.

3) After the use of the tunnel, the underground passage is concealed to prevent discovery.

II: Activity carried Out by terrorist Organizations and their relationship with the Palestinian Authority

The Hamas

The Hamas terrorist organization utilizes the Rafah area to arm its members throughout the Gaza Strip. This effort is aided by senior Hamas members and terrorist organizations in various countries ×í’Ǩ’Äú which transport weapons throughout the Gaza Strip via the Rafah tunnels. It also carries out hostile terrorist activity against IDF forces in the area.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine

During the current armed conflict, the PFLP has smuggled weapons and explosives to the Gaza Strip. This effort is aided by Iranian officials, as part of Iranian efforts to bolster the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. Iranian officials have smuggled weapons to the PFLP, and maintain close contact with supporters based in Egypt.

The role of the Palestinian Authority since in the beginning of the current armed conflict

The Palestinian Authority has aided the above-mentioned terrorist activity since the beginning of the current armed conflict. For example, the Palestinian Authority has encouraged residents to conceal tunnels in their homes, which results in the demolition of their houses.

Today, the demolition of a house in which a tunnel has been uncovered, brings with it an ample windfall, as well as the construction of a new house ×í’Ǩ’Äú built of concrete in the neighborhood of Tel-Sultan by the Palestinian Authority. As a result, residents have even begun to construct fictious tunnels, and spread rumors about tunnels located under their houses in order to receive compensation from the Palestinian Authority after their home is demolished. Thus, the Palestinian Authority encourages the smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip.

During the entire cease-fire period, the Palestinian Authority failed to deal with the smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip, as it should have. This smuggling, during the cease-fire, served to arm the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip and strengthen the terrorist infrastructure in the area.

Palestinian Authority efforts to re-arm

During the current armed conflict, the Palestinian Authority itself, through the ×í’ǨÔø‡rearmament network,×í’ǨÔø‡ has been active in smuggling weapons into the Gaza Strip via tunnels.

Weapons Smuggled into the Gaza Strip since January 2003

Since January 2003 large amounts of diverse weapons have been smuggled into the Gaza Strip, among them:

×í’Ǩ¢ÝDozens of RPG rockets and launchers ×í’Ǩ¢ÝHundreds of kilograms of explosives ×í’Ǩ¢ÝHundreds of rifles (mainly AK-47 Kalashnikovs) ×í’Ǩ¢ÝTens of thousands of bullets and other ammunition ×í’Ǩ¢ÝThousands of cartridges ×í’Ǩ¢ÝEfforts are made to smuggle in more advanced kinds of weapons.

III: IDF Activity

During the past year and a half, IDF forces have acted forcefully to prevent smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip.

Construction of a physical blockade

In order to create a continuous cover of observation and fire, and as well as a physical blockade, a wall was erected. As part of the wall, the Termit and Hardon outposts were established.

Targeted activity to uncover and demolish tunnels

Since September 2000, the IDF has uncovered and demolished approximately 90 tunnels.

×í’Ǩ¢ÝDuring 2003, the IDF has uncovered and demolished over 40 tunnels as well as a large number of houses and buildings from where the tunnels emerged. ×í’Ǩ¢ÝSince the beginning of 2004, the IDF has uncovered and demolished 11 tunnels as well as a number of houses and buildings from where the tunnels emerged.Ý

Appendix A: Interview with Palestinian smuggler

On August 10, 2002, the Islamic web portal, "Islam Online," published an interview with an individual named "Honey."

Honey identified himself as an active "expert" in the excavation of clandestine subterranean passages in the Rafah area, and described how he and his friends dug tunnels in which Palestinian terrorist organizations smuggled arms. Ý Determining the most suitable location for a tunnel

After determining the most suitable location to begin work, engineers survey the ground, which must be of a firm, and not overly sandy consistency. The further the point of origin is from the (Israeli) border, the less chance there is of being caught.

How the tunnels are dug

A pit is dug one meter wide and between twelve to fourteen meters deep. Supports are placed on the sides of the pit. The pit is dug to a depth of at least twelve meters so that Israeli detection devices cannot detect tunnels at this depth. The tunnel is dug horizontally so that it has a width of forty centimeters by forty centimeters. Every three meters wooden planks are placed alongside the four sides of the tunnels so it doesn't collapse. Various mechanical devices are used to overcome natural obstacles like rock, including a machine that removes sand via suction. An electrical cable is hung in the tunnel to provide lighting.

Security precautions

The work is conducted clandestinely. The sand is not removed all at one time, but is placed in flour bags and transported to a remote location. A lookout is posted at the entrance to the tunnel to ensure that the work continues unimpeded. The completion of one tunnel takes three months or more. The last tunnel we built took three months. The workers who build a tunnel receive a percentage of the profit generated from smuggling weapons.

Between six to twelve meters are dug every day. The last tunnel we dug was two hundred and thirty meters long. At either end of the tunnel there is a "work manager;" the two work managers maintain contact by code, usually via phone. The workers on the Egyptian side direct where the tunnel exit will be. The exit from the Palestinian side is steep (a straight vertical shaft), while it is gradually inclined on the Egyptian side.

Construction of a tunnel costs a minimum of $10,000. The minimal cost for smuggling weapons is $300 and the money is split between the five partners for building and maintaining the tunnels.

Smuggling method

If someone is interested in smuggling weapons, he makes a coded request and the workers schedule the date for the smuggling operation. The codes and passwords are transferred via [land-line] phones and cellular phones. The transfer from one side to the other takes between five to ten minutes and is carried out using an engine which pulls a rope.

Smuggling prices

The following prices vary according to location and item.

×í’Ǩ¢ÝPerson: $1,000 ×í’Ǩ¢ÝAK-47 assault rifle from Egypt to Gaza: 2,000 Egyptian liras ×í’Ǩ¢ÝAK-47 assault rifle within Gaza: $1,000 ×í’Ǩ¢ÝAK-47 bullet from Egypt to Gaza: 0.5 Egyptian Liras. ×í’Ǩ¢ÝAK-47 bullet within Gaza: $3

Source of weapons:

Egypt, Iraq, Sudan, and the Salom area in Libya.

Appendix B: Map of seized smuggling plan.


Posted by WRL Leib @ 05/20/2004 05:48 PM CST

Unlike the PA, Israel is governed by the rule of law, and even the decision to demolish homes is subject to review by its judiciary. When terrorists fire at Israeli soldiers or civilians from residential buildings or activate roadside charges from orchards and fields, military necessity dictates the demolition of these locations and international law recognizes them as legitimate targets. Israel’s Supreme Court, the most independent judicial body in the Middle East, has ruled the army’s actions are legal.

Innocent lives have been lost during Israeli operations. As the United States has discovered in fighting an urban war against anti-American insurgents in Iraq, it is virtually impossible to engage gunmen in populated areas and avoid civilian casualties. Like the U.S. army in Iraq, Israeli forces are defending themselves and seeking to minimize collateral damage.

Reports about Palestinians being hurt describe them being in the midst of gun battles.72 If Palestinians are shooting at Israeli soldiers, then clearly the Israelis are not attacking innocent civilians. And the media never bothers to ask a more fundamental question; that is, why do any of the Palestinians in Gaza have guns to shoot at the Israelis in the first place? Again, according to agreements the Palestinians signed, the only people entitled to have weapons are the police, and the PA is obligated to confiscate all illegal weapons.

In the course of Israel’s operations, it is tragic that civilians sometimes suffer. Rather than blame Israel, however, the Palestinians should demand the democratic election of new leaders who will dismantle the terrorist networks so that Israel has no need to take defensive measures.

MYTH #142

“Israel is illegally, and without justification, destroying Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip.”

FACT

The Palestinian Authority has repeatedly made commitments to stop terror against Israel. In the most recent agreement, the road map, the PA agreed to “declare an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism and undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere.” To date, the PA has not fulfilled this commitment and, as recently as May 15, 2004, Yasser Arafat called on Palestinians to “find what strength you have to terrorize your enemy and the enemy of God.”71

In Gaza, terrorists have acted with impunity since the PA was created. They intentionally hide in refugee camps and elsewhere among the civilian population. They do so knowing that Israel will make every effort to avoid attacking them out of concern for innocent lives. The civilian population puts itself at risk, however, by allowing the terrorists to use them as shields.

When it comes to homes that Israeli security forces have demolished, they are not chosen at random. These dwellings are used by terrorists as hideouts, bomb factories, and sniper and ambush sites. Buildings near the Egyptian border are used by terrorists to conceal tunnels that allow them to smuggle arms, explosives and other terrorists into Gaza for the express purpose of killing Israelis. The government of Egypt, which could stop the smuggling and provocation immediately, refuses to do so.

As is the case in fighting terrorism generally, the question that must be asked about Israel's decision to demolish homes is: What alternatives are open to Israel? If the Palestinian authorities were doing their jobs, and fulfilling their promises, the terrorists would be in jail, the bomb factories, closed, and the tunnels filled in. Since they are not, Israel must find a way to protect its citizens, and security forces have concluded that demolitions are the most effective tool.

Unlike the PA, Israel is governed by the rule of law, and even the decision to demolish homes is subject to review by its judiciary. When terrorists fire at Israeli soldiers or civilians from residential buildings or activate roadside charges from orchards and fields, military necessity dictates the demolition of these locations and international law recognizes them as legitimate targets. Israel’s Supreme Court, the most independent judicial body in the Middle East, has ruled the army’s actions are legal.

Source: Myths & Facts Online -- A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict by Mitchell G. Bard,

Posted by Jim @ 05/20/2004 06:03 PM CST

Questions to ask your self:

1)On the occasion that a heavily armed military force were to roll into your town, what care would you take for your children?
(A) Take them with you into the streets where armed partisans are engaged in gun battles.
(B) Stay home, get under cover and stay there til the shooting stops.

--YOU BE THE JUDGE--

Posted by Jim @ 05/20/2004 06:17 PM CST

Jim,

Question for you, what the hell are Israeli's doing in Gaza? you could ask your question to the settlers.

There's no doubting there are terrorists/gunmen operating from within the camps. You expect the pal citizens to somehow disassociate themselves from the gunmen. How exactly? ask "please mister gunmen don't stand next to me"

Funny how Israel complains about the PA's lack of ability to stop terrorists after systematically weakening their authority, is the PA capable of containing terrorists, assuming it had the will to? doubtful, has Israel's actions being complicit in this? most probably.

What exactly is the Israel strategy? Do they want in or out of Gaza?

Israel obey's the rule of law? it's own and no one else's by the looks of it. Could find a lot of people who would disagree with your statement.

"Israeli forces are defending themselves and seeking to minimize collateral damage." They are certainly defending themselves not to sure about minimising collateral damage, more like paying it lip service IMO.

Posted by Dave @ 05/21/2004 03:57 PM CST

The previous commentator asked why is Israel in Gaza. The simple answer is that since 1967 there has been no effective civil administration available (willing to exchange land for peace)to whom the governance of Gaza could handed over to; since the 1970's there have been ill-advised Israeli settlements there; The Egyptian government wants the Israelis there to manage the border; as Ambassador Ross said 2 nights ago "there is a war going on"; if Israel is to withdraw then it must control the evacuation routes; and finally it is not in Israels or the Palestinians interests to allow Gaza to become an even more heaviliy armed camp.
2 nights ago on BBC Newsnight programme the presenter asked an Egyptian govt rep (I believe UN ambassodor) 'Why does the Egyptian govt not do anything to stop the flow of arms into Gaza?' Due to a technical fault he could not answer straight away, but when he did speak he entirely ignored the question, and simply rendered an hysterical speech about Gaza descending into chaos should the IDF leave unlaterally. My impression was that the Egyptians, having allowed (& profitted from) the arming of the Palestinian armed factions, are profoundly terrified that the IDF will leave, Gaza will descend into chaos and that will spill over into Egypt.
The failure of the Palestinian leadership to develop effective civil government threatens not only its own inhabitants and the Israelis, it also threatens its Arab neighbours. Most importantly if the international community and the Palestinians want to restart negotiations then the PNA must establish itself as a credible body, able to deliver upon its commitments. Sadly to date this has not happened. Israel cannot facilitate or deliver effective civil government for the Palestinians, it is something they have to do themselves.
We also have to learn to accept that there will be civilian fatalities in engagements between the Palestinian factions and the IDF. It is a basic fact that guerilla fighters need the cover of civilians to be able to operate in urban environments against established armies. I recall it being one of the basic tenets of Moaist principles for revolutionary armies. Israel faces an additional obstacle insofar as it is judged by an entirely different set of standards than the Palestinians are judged. It is as though the world regards the Palestinians as being somehow morally inferior and thus if their fighters kill unarmed civilians it isn't quite as bad as if Israels kill civilians. If we look at the situation objectively it is self-evident that whilst the IDF does exhibit an indifference at times to civilian casualities, the Palestinian military factions deliberately set out to target them. If the Palestinians insist that the IDF etc behave according to the "Geneva Conventions" then they too need to comply with them.

Posted by Rod Davies @ 05/21/2004 10:24 PM CST

Rod, thanks for the reply, but you kind of side-stepped one of my main points, why build the settlements? they we’re never going to be a good idea.

The PA Administration is woefully inadequate but it is very convenient for Israel to lambast the PA while they are partially responsible for the mess it’s in; the creation of Hamas, the recent concerted efforts to undermine Arafat. The problem they face is that they need to negotiate with someone even if they are less than desirable, to simply say there’s no one to negotiate with is a failure of the Israeli’s.

Agreed about the point regarding the Egyptians, for all the aid that the Americans give them you’d think they’d exert some pressure on them to stop aiding the terrorists. Unfortunately they are too busy pissing everyone off in Iraq. For all the Arab’s complain about the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians none of them seem to get involved in any constructive way. Muslim Brotherhood is a much vaunted but rarely seen quality.

The phrase you use “We also have to learn to accept that there will be civilian fatalities in engagements between the Palestinian factions and the IDF” is troubling. I get the impression that it is very easy for the IDF to accept this and the consequences of both sides accepting it can only be further brutality. Until they have respect for each other and themselves peace will be very difficult to achieve.

Israel by definition is judged by different standards, it is a sovereign state with all the associated apparatus of a well-developed state. It has many tools at hand that it can employ. The PA authority by contrast has very little, therefore, from a pragmatic viewpoint alone, the greater burden of responsibility to sort the situation out is with the Israeli’s.

It is not a case of somehow legitimising the atrocities perpetrated by the Palestinians it is more a case of reluctantly accepting that is their modus operandum. Here you can draw an analogy with the situation between the British Government and Sinn Fein/IRA. Your final statement is unfortunately wishfull thinking. The Palestinian’s response would be “ if you want us to act like a nation state then give us our nation state” and here we find the impasse.

Progress will not be made while either side escalates the tension between the two, this only polarises opinions on both sides leaving no room for moderates, the solution will not come from the extremists.

Posted by Dave @ 05/24/2004 06:03 PM CST

Dave: I think that what is often forgotten is that neither side recognised the 1949 cease-fire line as a permanent border. However between 1949 and 1967 the cease-fire line became regarded by the NATO & Warsaw Pact countries as the defacto international boundary. Immediately after the 1967 war, Israel naively hoped that it might trade land for peace and recognition. However as that did not come about and then Likud came into power the temptation to seek to establish Greater Israel evolved. I think there existed the hope that the Palestinians would come to accept Isreali hegemony. Especially as the Arab world seemed unwavering in its refusal to negotiate with Israel and that the Israeli & Palestinian economies became interwoven.
It is interesting that some individuals who propose a one-state solution are actively opposed to migration from Israel to the West Bank, while they support the migration of Palestinians from the Occupied Territories into Israel with the object to destroying Israel from within by force of demographics. Further the issue of the settlers might never have been an issue if the PLO / PNA had agreed to allow them to remain with the potential of obtaining Palestinian citizenship but subject to Palestinian law - this would have required the PNA to establish a stable judiciary to make it work. This situation would have been no different from that of Israeli Palestinians since 1949.
In my opinion Israel made a massive mistake in allowing the settlemenst, and should arbitrarily pull the settlers out of the Territories.
In terms of the PNA, I don't believe that the PNA / PLO were ever likely to have been able to evolve into a credible government. Had they been able to do so I think that there would be a Palestinian State today. The PNA face on one hand the problem that all revolutionaries face, that is trasnforming themselves from an almost exclusively military operation to that of civil opeation. In this transfer the former fighters lose their status and power. In China this loss resulted in the Cultural Revolution and the associated butchery as the original revolutionaries tried to hang onto power. On top of this is the PLO's legendary levels of corruption and fractious nature. One only has to look at the way it operated in in Lebanon and the violence it visited upon its allies and people. I once saw a statistic which stated that between 1964 and 1984 the PLO managed to kill less than 700 Israelis, while managing to kill 38,000 Palestinians. How accurate this figure I don't know, but it is fairly damning.
Drwaing comparisons between UK & IRA and Israel & Palestinians is tempting but misleading. The IRA simply never possessed the status or support or resources that the PLO enjoys. Also no would either siode of the Isrish Sea would ever propose that the unreformed IRA would ever be allowed to become the internationally accepted leaders of Northen Ireland. PLO / PNA is the internationally recognised government of the nascent state of Palestine - it holds a seat in the UN as observers. If it seeks to assert itself as the rightful government of Palestine and demands that Isreal abide by Int'l Law then it must do the same. It cannot be allowed to claim that the actions of terrorists which it funds are beyond its control.
One of the most striking differeneces between Jewish nationalism and Palestinian nationalism is the efforts that the Zionist put into setting up the machinery of state long before there was a state. The lesson of 1949 that Palestinians have failed to learn is that the Zionists were able to beat them because of that preparatory work. Further the Israelis have continued to actively develop their society socially and economically in a way that the Palestinians have not.
With the exception of the Atalena incident, the Israelis have managed to ensure that their armed forces remain subservient to the civilian government and largely apolitical. The Palestinians have failed to develop that, and so the various factions are a constant threat to the PNA. I think that there is very little evidence over the last 10 years to indicate that the PLO / PNA have renounced violence as a means of obtaining what they want - despite their violence being the most unproductive activity available to them. I would suggest that the PLO / PNA needs the violence and Israels violent reactions to stay in power, without the war to distract the Palestinian people I think the current PNA wouldn't last long.
Unilateral disengagement will not create moderates but it would create the potential for the moderates to emerge and rise to the top. I don't believe there is any other alterantive. What no one can go back to is the self-deceptive situation of 5 years ago where hope still aspired to some negotiated settlement.

Posted by Rod Davies @ 05/24/2004 10:27 PM CST

Hi Dave and Rick, WRL Leib, Jim, and others,
Thanks for starting a lively debate.
Perhaps you want to write some Web log entries of your own for MEW. Meanwhile, you should try to keep your comments to a reasonable size. Posting of long articles from other Web sites is really taking advantage of our hospitality.

There were many reasons for the settlements. The 1949 borders were not granted de jure recognition. The Arab countries certainly did not recognize them. In any case, they were armistice lines with demilitarized zones and an awkward configuration. Israel was not going to live with divided Jerusalem and other results of the 1949 cease fire if it could help it.

From the Israeli point of view, the Arabs instigated the 6-day war and should pay the price. Originally, most of the land was to be returned in return for peace according to Israeli government resolutions. However, when Arab countries repeatedly said "no" to Israeli peace proposals (see especially the resolutions of the Khartoum conference) the right wing, capitalizing on the opportunity offered by the West Bank real estate, began pushing settlement plans. The settlements got support from right-wing Zionists who intended them to be permanent, and from those who felt that the settlement project gives Israel an important bargaining chip in future negotiations. The right leveraged on Arab opposition to peace, terror incidents and on the UN "Zionism is Racism" resolution to gather support for settlements as a means of revenge and assertion of national pride.

Ami Isseroff

Posted by Modeator @ 05/30/2004 04:47 PM CST

Sometimes I wish I were G_d. Maybe that's a sin?
But: if I were G_d, for ten years I'd arrange for half of all Palestinian newborns to be exchanged for a similar number of Israeli Jewish newborns. I'd keep it secret for ten years, while all these little ones grew up in the loving homes of their "enemies" -- or didn't grow up because they were killed by suicide bombers (who may be their older brothers, by blood ties), became 'collateral damage' in Israeli air strikes or had their homes (and sometimes their bodies) flattened (by airmen and soldiers who may be their fathers, by blood ties), were subjected to all the awful fears and mayhem that wall in the days of Israel/Palestine, along with all the love and guidance that parents would bestow on these precious and beloved children.
After ten years I'd let the word get out that half the little kids in My blood-soaked 'Holy Lands' didn't share the blood of the parents who'd raised them so far. But I wouldn't ever identify the misplaced kids. Let all the parents wonder.
Who then would dare to take risks with the lives of the Children of Abraham? ...
Why in the name of Heaven are we blind to the perfection in The Other? When I caught my little son using a magnifying glass to try to set a beetle on fire (didn't work, but the beetle seemed anxious), I told him "If you can't make it, don't break it". A little boy, he could still be taught that Life is precious.
From one small lesson, even a little child can learn: we just have no right to take away the life G_d gives another. It really is our own Brother, our own Sister, who we kill.

Posted by ruth @ 06/01/2004 11:49 AM CST

Sometimes I wish I were G_d. Maybe that's a sin?
But: if I were G_d, for ten years I'd arrange for half of all Palestinian newborns to be exchanged for a similar number of Israeli Jewish newborns. I'd keep it secret for ten years, while all these little ones grew up in the loving homes of their "enemies" -- or didn't grow up because they were killed by suicide bombers (who may be their older brothers, by blood ties), became 'collateral damage' in Israeli air strikes or had their homes (and sometimes their bodies) flattened (by airmen and soldiers who may be their fathers, by blood ties), were subjected to all the awful fears and mayhem that wall in the days of Israel/Palestine, along with all the love and guidance that parents would bestow on these precious and beloved children.
After ten years I'd let the word get out that half the little kids in My blood-soaked 'Holy Lands' didn't share the blood of the parents who'd raised them so far. But I wouldn't ever identify the misplaced kids. Let all the parents wonder.
Who then would dare to take risks with the lives of the Children of Abraham? ...
Why in the name of Heaven are we blind to the perfection in The Other? When I caught my little son using a magnifying glass to try to set a beetle on fire (didn't work, but the beetle seemed anxious), I told him "If you can't make it, don't break it". A little boy, he could still be taught that Life is precious.
From one small lesson, even a little child can learn: we just have no right to take away the life G_d gives another. It really is our own Brother, our own Sister, who we kill.

Posted by ruth @ 06/01/2004 11:49 AM CST

Sometimes I wish I were G_d. Maybe that's a sin?
But: if I were G_d, for ten years I'd arrange for half of all Palestinian newborns to be exchanged for a similar number of Israeli Jewish newborns. I'd keep it secret for ten years, while all these little ones grew up in the loving homes of their "enemies" -- or didn't grow up because they were killed by suicide bombers (who may be their older brothers, by blood ties), became 'collateral damage' in Israeli air strikes or had their homes (and sometimes their bodies) flattened (by airmen and soldiers who may be their fathers, by blood ties), were subjected to all the awful fears and mayhem that wall in the days of Israel/Palestine, along with all the love and guidance that parents would bestow on these precious and beloved children.
After ten years I'd let the word get out that half the little kids in My blood-soaked 'Holy Lands' didn't share the blood of the parents who'd raised them (or mourned them) so far. But I wouldn't ever identify the misplaced kids. Let all the parents wonder.
Who then would dare to take risks with the lives of the Children of Abraham? ...
Why in the name of Heaven are we blind to the perfection in The Other? When I caught my little son using a magnifying glass to try to set a beetle on fire (didn't work, but the beetle seemed anxious), I told him "If you can't make it, don't break it". A little boy, he could still be taught that Life is precious.
From one small lesson, even a little child can learn: we just have no right to take away the life G_d gives another. It really is our own Brother, our own Sister, who we kill.

Posted by ruth @ 06/01/2004 11:52 AM CST

I have read the writings of Palestinian children describing the invasion of their homes and being occupied for days. I have read their cries for peace. These children are depressed. Their homes are being razed and some have suggested this is justified. Some suggest that the Palestinian citizens rely on the police for help.

Are there Palestinian police? Because, I think not. These people are powerless.

Why are the Isreali soldiers in the Gaza strip?

Aren't they going to great lengths to build a wall to remain separate from the Palestinians?

How can we expect these people who are being oppressed much like the Jews were leading up to WWII to trust in this government?

Don't they have an inherent right to defend themselves? Here, in Texas, I have the right to shoot someone invading my home. I have the right to defend my life and property.

We need to bring humanity back to these people if there is any chance to end the violence. Bring them electricity and running water. Rebuild their homes.

Peace.

Posted by Polly @ 06/10/2004 09:43 AM CST


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