Israel Resource Review 18th October, 2006


Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center: RISE IN ANTI-TANK ROCKET FIRE IN GAZA STRIP OVER LAST MONTH

The number of anti-tank rocket fire incidents in the Gaza Strip has risen significantly of late. During the first two weeks of October, there were 11 incidents of fire, in contrast to only four in September, as revealed by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center,, located in Herzelia, Israel.

Security officials believe that the rise in rocket fire apparently stems from the arrival of new anti-tank weapons in the Gaza Strip. An additional reason is the intensive foiling and prevention activity by IDF forces within the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinians made broad use of anti-tank fire during the recent IDF operations in the Gaza Strip. During the Four Species operation on Sukkoth, which focused on the northern Gaza Strip and was meant to block Kassam rocket fire at communities in the western Negev, the forces encountered strong anti-tank fire and bombs laid by terrorists. Hamas El-Aksa Martyrs Brigades announced that their activists had fired anti-tank fire and mortar shells at IDF forces in the Jabalya area.

During the Rain Man operation which focused in the Khan Yunis area as well, and was meant to uncover tunnels and capture wanted terrorists, strong exchanges of fire took place between the IDF and the Palestinians, which included anti-tank rocket fire, shells, and bombs.


At the beginning of the week, the spokesman for the operational force subject to the Interior Ministry in the Hamas government, Aslam Shahwan announced that the government was considering doubling the number of operational force personnel to 5,500 armed men from various factions.

Shahwan told the Jordanian newspaper Al Rai that at first the interior minister had set up an operational force of 3,500 armed men, out of the various Palestinian factions, but recently the number has grown. "Today we see that the force is insufficient and therefore we will have to increase it, especially in areas where there are not enough security people to maintain law and order," announced Shahwan.

The operational force was set up by Hamas in May of this year in order to deal with the chaos reigning in the Gaza Strip and as a response to the efforts of Abu Mazen to concentrate control over the security organizations in his own hands. During the violent clashes in the Gaza Strip, the operational force served the Interior Ministry as the main operational arm of Hamas against Fatah and security organizations under Abu Mazen's control.

Israel and Palestinian sources note that the financing of the force and its arming is being done by smuggling cash and weapons into the Gaza Strip via the Egyptian border. This is at a time when the PA has no money to pay its employees, including police and security services. The force is made up mostly of activists in the operational-terrorist arm of Hamas El-Aksa Martyrs Brigades, in addition to the operational arm of Fatah men opposed to Abu Mazen, and activists from the Popular Resistance Committees. According to a Popular Resistance Committee spokesman, about 700 of their men are in the operational force.

The operational force is subject to Palestinian Interior Minister Said Siam. Its commander, as far as is known, is Yousef a-Zahar, brother of Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud a-Zahar. The members of the force wear blue police uniforms, which does not prevent its opponents from calling it the "black militia." They patrol the Gaza Strip mainly in civilian jeeps. This forces allows Hamas to establish the maintenance, equipping, and financing of its armed terrorists, with the argument that it is a legal force of the PA.

At this stage the force is used mainly against opponents of Hamas in the Gaza Strip. However, security officials believe that in the future the force will also be integrated into terror operations against Israel.

Printer friendly version of this article

Return to Contents

Go to the Israel Resource Review homepage

The Israel Resource Review is brought to you by the Israel Resource, a media firm based at the Bet Agron Press Center in Jerusalem, and the Gaza Media Center under the juristdiction of the Palestine Authority.
You can contact us on