<%@LANGUAGE="VBSCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> WorldTribune.com: Mobile Elite Israeli units already operating inside Gaza

Elite Israeli units already operating inside Gaza

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 Free Headline Alerts

TEL AVIV Israel's military has begun using its special forces for operations in the Gaza Strip.

Military sources said the General Staff has ordered the most elite forces to operate deep inside the Gaza Strip in an effort to probe the defenses of the Hamas regime. They said the operations would help determine the final draft of a plan for an invasion of the Gaza Strip and destruction of the Islamic regime.

"We are in the stage of determining their defenses and destroying vital enemy facilities before any major operation," a military source said.

On Feb. 17, a member of the General Staff Reconnaissance Unit was injured in a battle with Palestinian fighters in the southern Gaza Strip, Middle East Newsline reported. The unit killed at least three of the fighters and detained more than 80 Palestinians.

The sources said the military has been employing its General Staff Reconnaissance Unit as well as and navy commandos in Gaza. The reconnaissance unit has been deemed the best-trained force in the military and used for intelligence-gathering as well as commando operations.

"Israel Defense Forces ground forces and IDF special forces with the assistance of the Israel Air Force operated overnight and this morning against the terror infrastructure in southern Gaza," the military said in a statement on Feb. 17. "During the operation, Palestinian gunmen opened fire at the soldiers using anti-tank missiles and small-arms. In the ensuing exchanges of fire, an IDF soldier from an elite unit was seriously wounded."

The special operations unit has also sought to test the response of Hamas units to Israeli penetration of urban areas of the Gaza Strip. The sources said Hamas and its allies have developed a makeshift command and control system for rapid response to enemy infiltration.

At the same time, Israel has been lobbying Western and other allies for an offensive meant to capture the Gaza Strip and destroy the Hamas regime. On Thursday, the London-based Al Hayat daily reported that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak discussed the operation with Turkey and relayed a message to Syria not to intervene.

Barak was also said to have proposed that Jordan, Qatar and Turkey send peace-keeping forces after the Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip. Qatar and Turkey have been participating in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.

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