Palestinian terrorists planned to fire Katyushas on Eilat

The Jordanian army reportedly captured four Palestinian terrorists two weeks ago, armed with two Katyusha rockets and six mortars.

According to the Jordanians, the terrorists planned to fire the rockets at hotels and fuel storage tanks in Eilat, Israel's southern port city.

According to the report, published today in Yediot Aharonot, Jordan trackers discovered the terror cell close to Jordan's border with Israel, some 30 kilometers north of Akaba. The chief of staff of Jordan's army gave orders to send an elite paratrooper unit to the border area, and the Jordanians launched extensive patrols, the paper reported. The Jordanians informed the IDF of their actions, and Israeli soldiers increased their patrols along the border.

The terrorists were discovered hiding in an overgrowth of reeds. The Jordanians said that under questioning, the Palestinians admitted that their plans were to fire the rockets at hotels in Eilat.

Israeli military sources said that this was the second time the Jordanians have reported capturing a terror cell planning to fire rockets at Eilat, but emphasized that the information provided by the Jordanians had yet to be verified.

The Israeli-Jordanian border is usually considered to be Israel's "quiet border," and Israeli and Jordanian forces cooperate to prevent terrorist activities. In March, soldiers of the elite Egoz unit located and killed four terrorists near Tel Katzir, southeast of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). The terrorists had infiltrated into Israel from Jordan. The night before, the Jordanian army informed the IDF that it had spotted a suspicious vehicle near the Israel-Jordan-Syrian border. The Jordanians reportedly opened fire at the vehicle, and killed two passengers. It was unclear if the infiltrators were Palestinians who had been living in Jordan, or Hizbullah fighters sent to the area.

In December, Israeli forces advanced towards Jordanian territory after members of a terrorist cell opened fire on a car traveling on the Tiberias-Beit Shean highway, parallel to the border. A heavy gun battle took place between the IDF and the terrorists, who may have been operating from Jordan. Sgt. Michael Sitbon, 23, was killed and three other soldiers were injured in the shooting attack and subsequent gunfire exchanges.

Major terror attack thwarted in Gaza Strip

A major terrorist attack was thwarted yesterday in the Gaza Strip when Israeli soldiers, acting on intelligence warnings, arrested five members of a terrorist cell armed with explosive belts and mortar shells.

Soldiers from the Givati Brigade, backed up by armored units, stopped cars on the highway between Gush Katif and Dir el-Balah. Five Palestinians traveling in one of the cars were arrested by security forces, after explosives and weapons were found in their vehicle. According to media reports, two explosive belts containing 36 kilograms of explosives and a 17-kilogram explosive charge were discovered.

According to initial interrogation, the Palestinians planned to leave the Gaza Strip and perpetrate a major terror attack in Israel. Two members of the cell were to be suicide bombers, while the others were to assist in the attack. The Palestinians were reportedly members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade.

"We have prevented a very large, and painful, terrorist attack that was planned to take place in Israel," said a senior IDF officer.

Ellis Shuman Israelinsider

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