With Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert sending ground troops into the Gaza Strip, in part to counter missile fire from the territory, Palestinian terrorists have claimed they fired a series of rockets on the other side of the country aimed at Jewish communities about 25 miles from Tel Aviv.
The Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades terror group called WorldNetDaily to take the credit for rockets they said were fired from Telkarem and Jenin in northern Samaria, targeting Jewish towns nearby. They said the rockets fell short of their intended goals, landing in Palestinian areas, but they promised more missile firings.
Security officials say the missile attacks open a whole new front of rocket targets against Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, and against neighboring cities, including Jerusalem.
Israel has not yet officially confirmed the north Samaria rocket attacks, but Israeli security officials speaking anonymously say the missile firings indeed took place. Palestinian and Jordanian officials also confirmed the rocket attacks.
Al Aksa has previously claimed they fired rockets from northern Samaria. During the past few months the IDF denied that there were rocket attacks, only to later release select information that some rockets had been fired by Al Aksa from northern Samaria.
Security analysts maintain that publicity about terror groups’ current missile capabilities in the territories could generate criticism of Olmert’s plan to withdraw from most of Judea and Samaria, which is within range to fire rockets at Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Israel’s international airport.
Oudai: Nothing to Fear
In an exclusive WorldNetDaily interview, Abu Oudai, chief rocket coordinator for the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, announced the beginning of the regular firing of Palestinian rockets from Judea and Samaria “just like we fire them from Gaza.”
Since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip last August, over 1,000 rockets have been fired into nearby Jewish communities. The Israeli town of Sderot has been hit over the last few weeks with an average of 20 rockets per week.
Abu Oudai said the Al Aksa Brigades and Islamic Jihad would soon form a joint committee for the regular launching of rockets from northern Samaria. He said his rocket infrastructure in Jenin seeks to place the entire lower Galilee region of Israel under the regular threat of rockets, and that ultimately Jerusalem would come under missile barrage.
Asked how Olmert’s planned evacuation of Judea and Samaria would affect his group’s rocket capabilities, Abu Oudai responded it would help with his goal of “covering all Israeli regions and bringing them inside the distance of our rockets. It would help place every Israeli site or city inside our capabilities. The Ben Gurion airport, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, every site and city will be targeted. We are speaking about a new era in the conflict between us and the enemy.”
Prior to Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza last August, then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon threatened an “unprecedented response” to any rocket firing carried out by terror groups after Israel vacated the territory.
For the past two months, the Isreli army mostly responded to the rocket attacks with aerial and artillery fire that failed to stop or even slow the rocket attacks. Abu Oudai said he does not fear Israeli retaliation for his group’s planned rocket launchings from northern Samaria.
“I heard many time the expression of unprecedented response. The only unprecedented thing is the frequency of the Israeli ’empty threats.’ We are not afraid and we have nothing to fear,” said Abu Oudai.
Gaza Refugees Still Suffer
Jewish teenagers evacuated by Israel last summer from the Gush Katif experience high rates of suicide attempts and eating disorders and drop out of school and abuse drugs and alcohol in large numbers, according to a report presented to the Knesset last week.
The report also listed an increased risk of heart attacks and emotional distress among adults who were evacuated from the former Jewish communities of Gaza. The majority of refugees are unemployed, have yet to find permanent housing and have not received full compensation promised to them by the Israeli government.
“The situation is extremely grave,” said Dror Venunu, a former Gaza resident and the international coordinator for the Gush Katif Committee (www.katifund.org), a major charity organization representing the Gaza Jewish refugees. “It is at emergency status in many cases.”
Frustrated with what they refer to as government apathy, Gush Katif leaders, including Venunu, have asked for outside help. But they say a series of direct petitions to significant U.S. Jewish organizations in recent months have been fruitless. Most mainstream American Jewish groups supported the Gaza withdrawal.
Some U.S. Jewish groups, mostly Orthodox organizations and a few local federations, have helped, Venunu said. He said the Jewish community of Toronto has been offering assistance as well.
Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief for WorldNetDaily.com. He is a co-host of ABC Radio’s nationally syndicated John Batchelor Show and can be heard regularly on other top American radio programs. Klein is editor of the upcoming Galil Report, an e-mail intelligence newsletter focused on news about Israel. Subscriptions are available at www.g2bulletin.com.