Photo: Amir Cohen
Warning of another tunnel attack?
Photo: Amir Cohen

IDF forces evacuated due to hot alert

Warning: Intent to attack Israeli target near Sufa crossing, possibly same planners as Kerem Shalom attack. Defense establishment decides to move forces out of area

While the IDF is dealing with preparations for a possible military campaign in the Gaza Strip, consolidating forces, making efforts to retrieve kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit and investigating the kidnapping, they have been forced to deal with another hot alert: A threatened attack against an Israeli target in the area of the Sufa crossing.


Not only is the alert still in effect following theattack on Kerem Shalom, it is now hotter than ever, military officials said.


The evacuation of the outpost adjacent to Sufa crossing on Saturday night, as first reported by Ynet, was a major step in an attempt to prevent the attack. In the meantime, the defense establishment decided to evacuate more forces from the area, in particular replacing fixed stations with mobile patrols.

IDF troops in Gaza border area (Photo: Amir Cohen)


During the day, digging was carried out beneath ground level, in addition to other operations aimed at exposing underground tunnels. Sources noted that it was possible the anticipated attack was also planned by the masterminds behind the incident at Kerem Shalom.


On Wednesday, a special committee headed by Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Giora Eiland, who was appointed for the task by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz, was expected to arrive at the Gaza Division and begin investigating the events leading up to the attack. Col. Avi Peled, head of the southern division within the Gaza division, has finished the majority of the investigation regarding the event itself, including force preparation and response. This was presented to Defense Minister Amir Peretz who visited the southern division of Southern Command in Kerem Shalom.


Investigation Results


As was published Tuesday morning by Ynet, investigations confirmed that the division forces were prepared in a comprehensive manner for the possibility of an attack, including an attack via a tunnel. The intelligence information regarding the attack itself had, indeed, been in the forefront of discussions among officers of the division and the command, including a situational analysis led by the head of Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Yoav Gallant. Information connected to the attack was tracked for ten days, parts of which indicated the possibility of an explosive tunnel, as opposed to the use of a tunnel as a means of entry into the outpost.


The intelligence operation, dubbed "Come Quickly," was not focused, and was spread over a number of scenarios, many of them unclear. Despite the lack of clarity, many responses were undertaken in the division in order to prepare for the situation. These included response training to a kidnap situation, digging in various areas in and around the outpost, and closing of the Kerem Shalom crossing.


At a certain point, the focus of the suspected attack was "transferred" to Kisufim and thus, anti-terror activities in that area of southern Gaza were interpreted as most likely having foiled the attack. It should be noted that, regardless, preventative measures were still undertaken both at Kissufim and at Kerem Shalom, including additional forces in fixed and temporary stations.


Gathering Information 


Last Wednesday, information was received regarding a terror operative in Rafah who might be able to shed light on preparations for the attack. Gaza Division Commander, Brig. Gen. Aviv Kohavi, prepared a plan for his arrest. Maj. Gen. Yoav Gallant approved it and the plan made it all the way to the Defense Minister, who gave it a green light.


On Friday night, a special unit executed the mission and the operative and his brother were brought in for questioning. They did not provide any meaningful information, other than to solidify the threat of attack.


פרסום ראשון: 06.27.06, 22:27
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