IDF soldiers in Gaza
Photo: AP

New terrorist traps attempt to fool troops

Palestinian terrorists deploy new booby-traps: Bombs meant to explode in soldiers' hands hidden in books, canteens, shampoo bottles. IDF special task force: 'There is no room for error'

'Yahalom', a special task force of the Engineering Corps, is battling a revolution in the world of terrorism these days. A few months ago a unit of troops from the force was doing a routine scan of a seemingly ordinary tunnel dug by Hamas militants near the Karni Crossing in Gaza, when they discovered that the hen-house blocking the entrance was actually a ticking time bomb.


This is one of the many examples of sophisticated terrorist plots the task force has come in contact with lately, in which Palestinians hid bombs inside of mundane objects. Recently Yahalom soldiers have seen booby-trapped books, egg trays, canteens, and even baby shampoo bottles. On the eve of perhaps yet another operation in Gaza, this is worrying news for the IDF.


Deputy commander of the force, Major Eran Davidi, warned that the plots' ingenuity lies in setting the bombs to respond to touch. Thus, if an IDF soldier opens the booby-trapped book or picks up the army-issue canteen from the ground, the bomb explodes in his hands.


Another way terrorists have chosen to disguise bombs is inside of plastic rocks. The troops nicknamed these faux rocks skirts, because they must be lifted in order to recognize the trap. "Recognizing a 'skirt' in open territory full of rocks that all look exactly the same is a real mission impossible," Davidi remarked.


Dealing with the threat well

The task force distinguishes between operations performed in Gaza and those performed in other territories, such as the north of Israel. Davidi explained that the controlled detonation of bombs should ideally be performed in open territory, but in Gaza the heavy population makes controlled detonation very difficult. "The operations almost require tweezers," he said.


The good news is that during the last three years Yahalom has been recognized as deserving of more funds, and new technology has been made available to the force. For example, recently they received a new light-weight robot that has the added bonus of a deployment arm. Use of the robot quickly replaced the presence of soldiers in dangerous areas, such as tunnels and other enclosed spaces.


Even so, the IDF continues to invest in the competence of the Yahalom troops. "It is crucial that they stay on their toes. There is no room for error," said Davidi.


"The enemy has had a few successes, but when compared to the amount of failures they point to an overall conclusion, that the IDF is managing to deal with the threat quite well."


פרסום ראשון: 03.30.08, 18:02
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