Palestinian terrorist groups on Monday used the former Jewish capital of the Gaza Strip, which was evacuated by Israel in 2005, to test new explosives and rockets for use against the Jewish state, senior members of Hamas’s so-called military wing told WND.
The Hamas terrorists said they set up an explosives testing zone in Neve Dekalim, which was the largest Gush Katif community. They said that among the explosives Hamas tested in Neve Dekalim were what they called new Yassin rockets, an improved version of Russian-made rocket-propelled grenades. The Hamas members said the rocket was named after late Hamas spiritual leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin, who was assassinated by Israel in 2004. One Hamas member said his group was preparing for a “rocket war” against Israel.
Abu Abdullah, considered one of the most important operational members of Hamas’s Izzedine al-Kassam Martyrs Brigades, Hamas’s declared “resistance” department, told this column last week that his group had turned two other former Gaza Jewish towns into advanced training zones.
Gaza Evacuees Still in Trailers
The majority of Gush Katif residents evacuated by Israel 17 months ago have still not received full compensation promised to them by the Israeli government, and are preparing to make small trailers – which were supposed to be temporary living quarters – into permanent homes, according to a report released this month.
“It is now clear that the caravan sites (which we were told were temporary until the government found permanent residences) will be home for the uprooted (Gaza) residents for at least five years,” stated a report by the Gush Katif Committee, the main humanitarian organization representing the Gaza Jewish refugees.
Israel pledged to find the uprooted Katif Jews permanent housing solutions within two years. But the Committee report states that some 97 percent of the 1,667 evacuated families still live in temporary housing, mostly in the Israeli Negev desert in small, government-built prefabricated “trailer villas.”
Residents there live in crowded conditions, in many cases lacking enough bedroom space to accommodate their families.
“You can punch through my wall,” a resident of Nitzan, the largest Gush Katif trailer community, told WND. “My friends come to visit me in coffee shops because there is not enough room in my living room for them to be comfortable.”
Prior to the August 2005 evacuation, the Gush Katif unemployment rate was less than one percent. Now some 37 percent of the evacuees are still unemployed and some 400 people aged 50 and over have said they are giving up looking for work.
A previous report stated that many of the Jewish children expelled from Gaza suffer from a full range of traumatic and post-traumatic stress symptoms, including anxiety, depression, regressive behavior, general behavioral problems, lack of concentration and difficulty coping with new or challenging situations. Yet many refugee sites lack youth counselors and activity centers. Budgets for youth programs expired last year.
“The situation is extremely grave,” said Committee cordinator Dror Vanunu. “It is at emergency status in many cases.”
A Little Less Money for Terrorists
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last week admitted she cannot guarantee that U.S. funding for security forces associated with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah organization would not reach “the wrong hands.”
Rice said she would reduce a funding request for Fatah forces following concerns last month expressed by key lawmakers that some of the money would be used for terror-related purposes.
The Bush administration in January had pledged $86.4 million to strengthen the Fatah forces. At the time, Abu Yousuf, a Fatah militant from Abbas’s Force 17 security forces, told WND that U.S. funds and weapons being transferred to his group would be utilized to “hit the Zionists,” prompting demonstrations from some members of Congress.
During a hearing last week before the House of Representatives Appropriations subcommittee, Rice said she would make a new request for less money. She conceded, “I will request less money, precisely because some of the money that I would have requested I did not think I could fully account for.”
EU: Israel Preparing for War With Syria
European officials have been claiming to Syrian leaders during the past few weeks that Israel is preparing for a military confrontation with Damascus. A top source in Syrian President Bashar Assad’s Baath party told WND that European leaders visiting Damascus in recent weeks delivered messages that Israel was taking measures in advance of a large-scale conflict with Syria, including updating battle plans, training reservist soldiers and preparing the home front for missile attacks.
One senior European Union official told Assad that the Israeli government instructed its major hospitals not to allow staff to take vacation during the summer months for fear a conflict would break out then, according to the Baath party source.
Israeli security officials and spokesmen for several major Israeli hospitals denied the claim.
The European officials advised Assad to engage in dialogue with the Jewish state and the U.S., leading to a full Israeli withdrawal of the Golan Heights, the Baath official said.
The Golan is strategic mountainous territory looking down on Israeli population centers twice used by Syria to mount ground invasions into Israel.
Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief for WorldNetDaily.com. He appears throughout the week on leading U.S. radio programs.