Written by IICC
April 14, 2008
Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center (IICC)
1. In the afternoon of Wednesday, April 9, a squad consisting of four armed terrorists broke through the border fence in the northern Gaza Strip. The squad members arrived at the fuel terminal area at Nahal Oz and started firing on Israeli civilians working there. At the same time, 24 mortar shells were fired on the Nahal Oz region. As a result of the terrorist attack, two Israeli civilians working at the terminal were killed: Oleg Lipson, 38, from Beersheba , and Lev Cherniak, 53, from Beersheba .
2. Found in the possession of the killed terrorists were hand grenades and small arms. It is our assessment that they intended to perpetrate a killing attack at the fuel terminal of Nahal Oz, the only source of fuel supply for Gaza Strip residents.
3. Following the attack, the squad members fled in the direction of Gaza Strip. An IDF force which arrived on the scene pursued the squad, killing two of the perpetrators of the terrorist attack. The Israeli Air Force attacked several targets in the Gaza Strip neighborhoods of Zaytoun and Al-Shajaiyya. Seven Palestinians were killed in the air raids, including a senior operative of the Al-Quds Brigades, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist-operative wing (Ma'an agency, April 9).
Reactions of the organizations responsible for the attack
4. Responsibility for the attack was claimed by the PIJ /Al-Quds Brigades and the Popular Resistance Committees/Salah al-Din Brigades. They referred to the attack as “breaking the blockade” on the Gaza Strip (Sawt al-Haqq website, Moqawama website, April 9).
5. In the evening, the PIJ/Al-Quds Brigades and the Popular Resistance Committees/Salah al-Din Brigades called a press conference, in which a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) read an announcement saying that the attack was aimed against Israel and that Israel was responsible for the “blockade”. He also noted that many other similar actions would follow (Al-Jazeera TV, April 9).
Israel 's response
6. Israel has blamed Hamas for the terrorist attack, being the organization in control of the Gaza Strip. Defense Minister Ehud Barak noted that Hamas would face the consequences. At the same time, Israel submitted a strong complaint to the UN Secretary General and to the Security Council, stating that the attack proved once again that the goal of the terrorists from Gaza was to disrupt the civilian infrastructure that makes it possible to conduct any semblance of a normal life in the Gaza Strip, to compromise the efforts to achieve peace, and to cause damage to the lives and welfare of the civilian population in the Gaza Strip.
Implications of the attack on the Nahal Oz terminal
7. The Nahal Oz terminal, situated north of Karni crossing, is the only fuel terminal of the Gaza Strip. The terminal is operated by the Israeli Dor Alon oil company. 75,400 liters of gas pass through the terminal every week, as well as 800,000 liters of diesel oil for transportation and 2.2 million liters of diesel oil for the Gaza Strip power station. The terrorist attack on the fuel terminal hit the only source of fuel supply Gaza Strip residents have, at a site of humanitarian cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians. Following the terrorist attack, Israel decided to keep the crossing closed for the following several days.
8. It should be noted that the supply of fuel from Israel to the Gaza Strip continued as usual in the days before the Nahal Oz terrorist attack. According to Colonel Nir Press, who is in charge of the Erez Crossing civilian coordination and administration, for several days before the attack, the Palestinians had not come to claim the gas and diesel fuel provided by Israel , probably to create the impression of a crisis in the Gaza Strip (ynet, April 9).
The Nahal Oz fuel terminal
The media background prepared by Hamas for the perpetration of the terrorist attack
9. In the days before the terrorist attack at the Nahal Oz fuel terminal, Hamas launched a media campaign which placed particular emphasis on the “fuel crisis” in the Gaza Strip, claiming that the fuel shortage was worsening the humanitarian situation. The campaign was accompanied by severe criticism of Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, calls to “break the blockade” on the Gaza Strip, and threats of a “big explosion” that would have an impact on the entire region.
Drivers on strike at the Palestine Square in Gaza City , protesting the shortage of fuel supply
(Al-Aqsa TV, April 8)
10. In this context, it should be noted that:
a. The Hamas movement issued warnings of a “big explosion” which could take place unless “immediate steps to open the Rafah crossing” were taken. A Hamas spokesman in Khan Younes noted that the blockade of the Palestinian people is not just an Israeli blockade but also an Arab blockade, of which the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah is part (Palestine-info, April 9).
b. On April 9, the Palestinian Legislative Council convened to discuss the “Israeli blockade” on the Gaza Strip. The session was broadcasted on Hamas's Al-Aqsa channel. Ahmad Bahr, acting Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, asked Egypt to provide fuel and electricity to the Gaza Strip, accusing the “Ramallah government” and the Egyptians of helping the blockade. Council member Fathi Hamad threatened that if Arab countries, and mainly Egypt , did not lift the blockade, there would be “an explosion in the Gaza Strip, with disastrous consequences for everyone in the region” (Al-Aqsa, April 9).
c. Hamas senior Khalil al-Hayya held a press conference in which he called to “break the blockade”, threatening that unless it was lifted, it would be broken by any means possible. He threatened an “imminent, unprecedented explosion”, and warned of actions that could take place along the Egyptian border and in “other places” (Al-Aqsa TV, April 8).
d. Ahmed Youssef, Isma'il Haniyah's political advisor, noted that breaching the border fence could be followed by additional measures, including breaking through the Rafah and Erez crossings in order to lift the blockade (Paltoday, April 9).
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