GAZA CITY Ñ Palestinian insurgency groups, echoing Hizbullah
tactics, have conducted a major multi-stage attack against Israel's military
along the Egyptian border.
At least five Israeli soldiers were killed and another six were wounded
in the Palestinian strike in the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday. An Israeli
military outpost was rocked by two huge bombs that destroyed a tunnel that
was dug underneath the military position.
"This was one of the most sophisticated attacks ever by the
Palestinians," a Palestinian source said.
Hamas and the ruling Fatah movement claimed joint responsibility for the
attack, Middle East Newsline reported. A communique said the two groups used 1.5 tons of explosives in the
attack against an Israeli installation.
It was one of the first successful multi-stage attacks by Palestinian
insurgency groups since 2001. Palestinian sources said the insurgents first
detonated two bombs that destroyed the Israeli military outpost, then
attacked reinforcements with mortars, anti-tank missiles and automatic fire.
At the same time, a Hamas operative sought to place a mine along the
Egyptian-Gaza border. The attempt was said to have been foiled by Israeli
This was the second major tunnel bombing by Palestinian insurgency
groups in 2004. In August, Israel's military closed the Rafah border
terminal with Egypt because of an alert that Palestinian insurgency groups
were constructing a tunnel for a major attack on an Israeli military target.
The Hamas-Fatah communique said two Palestinian suicide bombers were
used in the attack, reported to have been planned in August 2004. The
announcement said the two groups constructed a 600 meter tunnel that
extended from farmland outside Rafah to the Israeli outpost along the
Israeli Home Front units dug through the rubble in the search for
soldiers. The soldiers operated in the night as Palestinian snipers
Israeli military sources said Hamas and Fatah have been trained by
Hizbullah to carry out multi-stage attacks. Hours before the explosion,
Hamas fired five Kassam missiles toward an Israeli community in the northern
Gaza Strip. Nobody was injured.
On Monday, Israeli troops killed a Hamas leader in the West Bank city of
Israel's military was not expected to launch a major retaliatory strike,
the Israeli sources said. They cited U.S. opposition to any major military
operation amid efforts to hold elections on Jan. 9 for a Palestinian