Scanning Ashkelon beach
Photo: Tsafrir Abayov

3rd explosives-laden barrel found on Israeli beach

Police forces seal off Palmachim's Tzuk Beach, sappers dismantle explosive device; earlier suspicious objects on Michmoret Beach turn out to be plastic containers

Large police forces were dispatched to Palmachim's Tzuk Beach on Wednesday after receiving a report of a suspicious barrel that had washed up on the beach.


The area was subsequently sealed off and sappers defused the barrel, which originated from Gaza and was laden with explosives. Police combed the area in search of additional explosives.


Palestinian terrorist organizations issued an official statement this week claiming responsibility for the launching of the barrels, which noted there were eight such devices in total.


Thus far five devices were detected, two in a mysterious explosion near Gaza over the weekend, two in Ashdod and Ashkelon beaches Monday and another one in Palmachim on Wednesday.


The groups which claimed responsibility for the attacks are: Al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad's military wing, Salah a-Din Brigades, the PRC's military wing and Nabil Massoud Brigades of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, Fatah's military wing.


It was initially reported that the attacks were meant as revenge for the assassination of Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai.


False alarms

Earlier police forces were summoned to Michmoret Beach after receiving word of suspicious objects at the site. However, the objects turned out to be plastic containers used by fishermen and the beach was subsequently reopened.


Sappers were also called in to a Herzliya beach Tuesday after receiving a report of a suspicious object, and once again it was revealed not to be an explosive device.


Following the discovery of the devices in the Ashkelon and Ashdod beaches, a senior Navy element estimated that more barrels were likely to be washed ashore. Talking to Ynet Wednesday, the source said that the barrels dispatched by terrorist groups in Gaza pose a danger to Palestinian fishermen.


The source further estimated that similar devices may drift up north and be discovered in various locations along the Coastal Plain. He noted that the barrels were attached to cellular operating mechanisms which were meant to hit Navy vessels. "The devices had no motioning mechanisms and therefore it is unclear how the person who sent them could have identified any target," he said.


'Navy is prepared'

"It is no coincidence there were no casualties at the end. We were prepared and are working in a way which would foil such future incidents. The Navy has the appropriate capabilities to handle the situation, including observation means intended to detect such devices. Terrorist organizations commonly use innocent fishing boats in order to carry our attacks, which makes it hard for us."


The explosive device detected in Ashkelon contained explosives weighing 15 to 20 kilos. According to the Navy source the device "wasn't primitive, but no technological leap." He said that following the two explosions heard Friday near the Gaza Strip Navy elements suspected they were explosive devices and therefore it prepared accordingly.


Eli Senyor and Ali Waked contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 02.03.10, 15:11
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