Local terror groups are working with Hizbullah to turn the Gaza Strip into the Palestinian version of southern Lebanon by smuggling in heavy weaponry and rockets, building war bunkers and preparing for a large-scale confrontation with Israel, a senior terror leader in Gaza told WorldNetDaily.
"We learned from Hizbullah's victory that Israel can be defeated if we know how to hit them and if we are well prepared," said Abu Ahmed, northern Gaza leader of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades terror group. "We are importing rockets and the knowledge to launch them and we are also making many plans for battle."
Southern Lebanon is largely dominated by Hizbullah, which developed an arsenal of more than10,000 rockets it used to launch daily attacks against Israel's northern communities during the group's 34-day confrontation with the Jewish state which ended last month. Israel says Syria and Iran provided Hizbullah with rockets and advanced weapons, including anti-tank missiles, for use during battles.
Yuval Diskin, director of Israel's Shin Bet Security Services, told the Knesset last month that since the Jewish state withdrew from Gaza, the Palestinians successfully have transferred from the neighboring Egyptian Sinai desert hundreds of tons of advanced rockets; anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles; rocket propelled grenades; raw explosives; rifles; ammunition and other heavy weaponry. Israel vacated the Gaza Strip one year ago.
"If we don't move to counter this smuggling, it will continue and create a situation in Gaza similar to the one in southern Lebanon," Diskin said.
Abu Ahmed said Diskin's assessment was accurate.
"I think Diskin made those statements to try to distract the Israelis from their losses in Lebanon by focusing on another area, but he is right. We are turning Gaza into south Lebanon," the terror leader said.
Abu Ahmed said his group is receiving help from Hizbullah to import long-range rockets and train in guerrilla warfare tactics.
"We have warm relations with Hizbullah, which helps with some of the training programs," Abu Ahmed said. "We don't have anything to be ashamed of – that we are dealing with Hizbullah and that we are receiving training and information from them."
He said Hizbullah maintains cells in the Sinai.
"The Sinai is an excellent ground for training, the exchange of information and weapons and for meetings on how to turn every piece of land into usable territory for a confrontation with Israel," Abu Ahmed said.
'We can change strategic balance with Israel'
The terror leader said Palestinian groups are developing war bunkers inside Gaza similar to the underground Hizbullah lairs Israel found during last month's war in Lebanon.
"Our preparations include the building of special bunkers. Of course we are taking into consideration that Gaza is not the same topography as Lebanon," Abu Ahmed said.
During its confrontation with Hizbullah, Israel destroyed scores of complex bunkers that snaked along the Lebanese side of the Israel-Lebanon border. Military officials said they were surprised by the scale of the Hizbullah bunkers, in which Israeli troops reportedly found war rooms stocked with advanced eavesdropping and surveillance equipment they noted were made by Iran.
Abu Ahmed said the most important "tool" in the "Palestinian resistance arsenal was rockets. He said his group learned from Hizbullah that Israel can be defeated with missiles.
"We saw that with the capacity to bombard the Israeli population with hundreds of rockets every day we can change the strategic balance with Israel," he said.
Since Israel's Gaza withdrawal, Palestinian terror groups have been regularly firing rockets at nearby Jewish communities. The terrorists generally have fired three versions of Qassam rockets, improvised steel projectiles filled with explosives and fuel. Qassams can travel between one and five miles depending on the sophistication of the particular rocket.
Israel has noted improvements in Qassams, including rockets carrying double engines.
Israeli security officials say a large number of Katyusha rockets have been brought into Gaza. Katyusha's can travel about 12 miles and can deliver large payloads. Hizbullah fired more than 2,000 Katyusha rockets into Israel in July and August, devastating many northern towns.
Last month, the Islamic Jihad fired a Katyusha rocket into the Israeli Negev. It landed in an empty area. In June the group fired a Katyusha-like rocket that traveled about nine miles.
"The Katyusha we fired (last month) shows we can have every weapon we need," said Abu Ahmed. "It is only a matter of a small period before Gaza is ready for war."
Reprinted by permission of World Net Daily