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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Civilian attacks by PLO force government to respond: Continued

According to an IDF official, militant groups have also found a way to smuggle into Gaza light weapons and ammunition, and about 20 advanced anti-tank missiles since the end of the recent Israel-Hezbollah war. [13].

Anti-tank missiles found in Gaza tunnels in recent weeks are similar to those used by Hezbollah militants in the recent war; which caused a number of IDF casualties on the Lebanese border. [14].

Over the past year, Israeli officials say that among the tons of arms and explosives that have been smuggled into Gaza, Palestinians are obtaining 122-millimeter (mm) Grad rockets, which can be launched 18-30 km (11-19 mi.), placing major Israeli cities such as Ashkelon and Ashdod well within firing range. [15].

On March 28, 2006 Palestinian Islamic Jihad launched a Grad-type Katyusha into Israel for the first time. [16] Four Grad-type rockets in total have been fired into Israeli territory.

All the Katyusha rockets that have been fired from Gaza were 122 mm, [17] the same as those found on the Karin-A ship captured by Israeli authorities in Jan. 2002. The ship was carrying a supply of weapons and munitions delivered by the Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah and paid for by Iran, [18] the leading state sponsor of terror.

The 122-mm Katyusha rocket was widely used by Hezbollah to attack Israeli civilians in northern Israel during the recent Lebanon war and is thought to comprise the bulk of its arsenal. [19].

Defense Minister Amir Peretz said on Oct. 24, while touring the Gaza border area with the Southern Command, "We will not allow the Gaza Strip to turn into southern Lebanon and we will take action to prevent the strengthening of the terrorist organizations." [20].

Gaza Civilians Receiving Extensive Aid.

Although the Palestinian civilian population is undoubtedly experiencing some hardship due to the current security situation in the Gaza Strip, it is receiving extensive financial aid to prevent humanitarian suffering.

Both Israel and the international community, including the European Union, continue to hold back direct payment of funds to the Palestinian Authority, until the ruling Hamas party agrees to recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce terrorism, and agree to abide by existing agreements. But despite this, humanitarian aid benefactors' programs are operational, and Palestinians are receiving extensive financial and medical support.

The European Commission (EC), for example, has recently initiated its Temporary International Mechanism (TIM) for aid payments. Through the TIM, the EC has started paying social welfare allowances to 40,000 of the neediest Palestinian families.

The payments are in addition to stipends that have already been paid to health workers and those who have suffered a sudden drop in income and pensioners. Families selected to receive allowances through the TIM will receive $344 (€270) each. No regular payments have been made to the families since February 2006 due to the ongoing Palestinian Authority (P.A.) financial crisis.

In Sept. 2006 the Quartet (United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia) supported an extension of the TIM for a three month period and an expansion of its scope. So far, 1.3 million people in the Gaza Strip have gained access to water, health care and sanitation through the TIM. In the upcoming months, more than 600,000 people will benefit from social allowances under the TIM, including 12,000 health care workers, 55,000 other low-paid public service providers and pensioners and 40,000 families in greater need.

TIM has delivered over 2 million liters of fuel to Palestinians to ensure the continued supply of energy, in particular for hospitals and water sanitation in the Gaza Strip following the destruction of the Gaza power plant in July.

The European Commission is making $134 million (€105 million) available for the TIM from the Community budget and Member States have so far pledged an additional $98 million (€77 million). Together with the support granted through international organizations, UNRWA and NGOs, the total European Commission support to the Palestinian people will reach $420 million (€330 million) this year. [21] Following EU Council approval, the TIM will be extended an additional three months. [22].

Israel has permitted the Karni crossing and the Nahal Oz terminal to continue operations for the delivery of food and fuel to Palestinians despite the constant threat of terrorist attacks at these facilities. [23].

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