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Quick Takes: News From Israel You May Have Missed

The international community blasted Israel for reportedly killing civilians during a ground operation last week in the Gaza Strip. But according to an Israel Defense Forces commander who fought in Gaza, Hamas deliberately drew Israeli forces into populated civilian areas, shooting at Jewish fighters from occupied civilian homes.

“Hamas terror operatives shooting at us took up positions inside civilian homes while the civilians were still inside,” said the commander, who was speaking from the outskirts of an IDF operation in Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip.

“The aim is to draw us into killing civilians to bring about international pressure to end our operation,” the commander told WorldNetDaily, speaking on condition of anonymity due to Israeli military restrictions on media interviews by fighting forces.

The commander said that in one case, Hamas snipers shot at Israeli forces from the open window of a house where women could be clearly seen in the background.

Still, the international community slammed what many world leaders called “Israeli aggression” against Gazan Palestinian civilians. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon labeled Israel’s Gaza fighting as a “disproportionate” use of force. The European Union issued a statement urging Israel to halt activities it claimed endanger civilians, saying they were contrary to international law.

Israel’s stepped-up antirocket offensive was in response to Hamas’s escalation of rocket attacks, using long-range Katyusha-style Grad rockets to fire at the strategic port city of Ashkelon, home to about 120,000 people.

Longer-range Rockets Targeting Israel

The long-range Grad rockets fired from the Gaza Strip into Ashkelon the past few days were manufactured in and imported from Iran, according to Israeli security officials speaking to WND.

Grad rockets are longer-range projectiles similar to the Katyusha rockets that Hizbullah successfully used in 2006 to barrage northern Israel. The Grad travels up to 12 miles and delivers a larger payload than the Kassam rocket, which can travel about four to five miles and has been the rocket of choice for Palestinians.

Israeli security officials said the Grad rockets fired at Israel were made in Iran and were smuggled in parts into the Gaza Strip, where they were assembled.

It’s thought that a large number of rockets were brought into Gaza in January, when Hamas breached the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, the sources said.

According to a senior Hamas source, Hamas has more than 300 Grad rockets in addition to what the source claimed were “hundreds” more Grads possessed by other Gaza-based terror organizations, including the Hamas-allied Popular Resistance Committees.

Fatah Wants Credit Too

While Israel’s ground operation in the Gaza Strip has been largely reported as a war against Hamas, members of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah organization boasted that they also engaged in clashes against Israeli forces and fired rockets into Jewish population centers.

In interviews with WND, members of Abbas’s declared military wing, the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, complained that Hamas was taking all the credit for attacking Israel from Gaza.

“We engaged in clashes with Israeli forces and just yesterday fired four rockets into Sderot and one into Ashkelon,” said Abu Ahmed, a Gaza-based leader of the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades.

The Brigades in the northern Gaza Strip even released an official pamphlet taking credit for firing at Israeli troops involved in ground skirmishes with Palestinian terrorists.

According to senior Martyrs Brigades sources, cells of the terror group engaging Israeli troops include the Al Mujaheeden Brigades, a unit of Fatah fighters allied with Hamas, and the Aymin Guda cells, strong Hamas rivals.

But Olmert and the Israeli government largely insisted on separating the fighting in Gaza from continued negotiations with Abbas. The prime minister told the Knesset his government would continue allowing the IDF to attack Hamas, “which is uninterested in any structure of understanding with us, and would continue with diplomatic negotiations with [Abbas] and the Palestinian Authority.”

Amnesty Travesty

Five terrorists who were caught this week in the process of carrying out an attack against Israelis are senior members of Fatah’s Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades.

The gunmen were granted amnesty by Olmert in October as a gesture to help bolster Abbas’s Fatah organization.

The terrorists were given amnesty on condition they disarm, refrain from attacks, and spend three months in PA detention facilities and another three months confined to Nablus, the northern West Bank city in which they reside.

Last June, Olmert also granted amnesty to 178 Fatah fugitives who pledged their resignation from any so-called paramilitary organizations. In spite of the amnesty deal, many Brigades members openly brandished weapons and were caught carrying out scores of attacks.

Nevertheless, in October Olmert issued further amnesty documents to 43 more Fatah terrorists, who were also required to turn in their weapons, spend three months in a PA holding area and restrict their movements for another three months to one city.

Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief  for WorldNetDaily.com. He appears throughout the week on leading U.S. radio programs and is the author of the recently published book “Schmoozing with Terrorists.”

About the Author: Aaron Klein is a New York Times bestselling author and senior reporter for WND.com. He is also host of an investigative radio program on New York's 970 AM Radio on Sundays from 7 to 9 p.m. Eastern. His website is KleinOnline.com.


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