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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Gaza: Trouble waiting to happen

Gaza preparing for IDF incursion
Yaakov Katz, THE JERUSALEM POST Mar. 12, 2007

Bunkers built according to Hizbullah standards and pervasive land mines are some of the challenges the IDF will face if it decides to enter the Gaza Strip.

The IDF Southern Command has completed drafting plans for a massive incursion, which senior officers predict could be given the green light - depending on diplomatic developments, including the results of the talks that took place between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority
Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday.

Hamas's preparations, senior defense sources have told The Jerusalem Post, include an array of fortified, underground bunkers similar to those used by Hizbullah to launch attacks during the second Lebanon war last summer.

The consensus within the defense establishment is that the terrorist organizations will try to emulate Hizbullah's success in launching Katyusha rockets and fire hundreds of Kassam rockets at communities in the western Negev in the event of an incursion.

The IDF Home Front Command has been working with Gaza-belt communities to prepare for such a scenario and has drawn up plans that include the complete evacuation of some of the towns.

A high-ranking officer also told the Post that Hamas has laid dozens and  possibly hundreds of mines on routes that would be used to enter Gaza.

These bombs, as well as advanced antitank missiles recently acquired by the terrorists, could prove deadly to IDF tanks and armored personnel carriers.

Hamas has organized its men into a conventional military force and has established four regional brigades in the Strip - in the north, south, center and Gaza City. Each brigade is divided into battalions, companies and platoons.

Some of the commanders recently traveled to Syria and Iran for training.

"Everything is organized," said the senior officer. "This is no longer about the IDF against a group of terrorists, but the IDF against an army."

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