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Monday, January 15, 2007

Palestinians up quality of improvised explosives

Palestinians up quality of improvised explosives
Yaakov Katz, THE JERUSALEM POST Jan. 15, 2007

Under Hizbullah guidance, Palestinian terror groups in the West Bank have
recently obtained high-grade explosives that have significantly improved the
effectiveness of roadside improvised explosive devices (IED) used against
IDF patrols, senior defense officials told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

According to the officials, the Palestinians, adopting Hizbullah tactics,
have also improved in the way they camouflage and hide the explosive devices
on the sides of roads patrolled by IDF jeeps. While some of the explosives
used in the bombs were smuggled into the West Bank - from the Sinai Desert -
the Palestinians also used homemade explosives that were less effective but
still lethal.

"With predictions of another round of violence in the West Bank around the
corner, the Palestinian IEDs are a point of concern," said one senior

Since the beginning of the year, IDF troops in the West Bank, have
discovered two suicide belts as well as three large IEDs, including one
weighing 60 kilograms and another weighing 32 kg, both near the city of
Jenin. In 2006, troops discovered 109 IEDs in the West Bank in addition to
11 suicide belts.

At Sunday's cabinet meeting, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Yuval
Diskin reported growing Hizbullah efforts to establish infrastructure and
gain a foothold in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

IEDs have been a source of concern for the US military in Iraq and for NATO
forces operating in Afghanistan. At a recent NATO conference in Tel Aviv,
the IDF shared intelligence information on the IEDs it was facing and the
measures troops
took to avoid attacks.

According to a high-ranking IDF officer, Palestinians were continuing
efforts to manufacture and fire Kassam rockets from the West Bank. During
the summer, the IDF thwarted several such attempts in Tulkarm, where they
discovered a Fatah infrastructure behind the development of a small
lightweight Kassam rocket.

"They are constantly trying to get the development off the ground," the
officer said. "The only reason they fail is because the IDF retains a
presence in the territory."

In face of the possibility that another round of violence will break out by
the summer, the officer said that the Central Command was preparing and was
sending battalions for additional training. "The atmosphere is tense and it
is clear that something needs to happen," the officer said. "Either another
round of violence or some diplomatic breakthrough. We need to be ready."

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