(Communicated by Israeli security sources)

This afternoon, December 14, 2005, the IDF carried out an aerial attack against a vehicle loaded with explosives, carrying four members of the Popular Resistance Committees and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terrorist groups, who were on their way to carry out a terrorist attack at the Karni goods crossing.

Hamdan Mahmad Ahmed Mahanne, 19, a resident of Gaza city, was one of the Popular Resistance Committees terrorists killed as he was making his way to carry out an attack at the Karni crossing. Mahanne, who worked at the Karni crossing, had used the information that he collected on a regular basis at the crossing in order to plan and carry out the attack.

Although the crossings into and out of the Gaza Strip serve as a vital factor in the daily lives of the Palestinian population, enabling the passage of workers and merchandise, the Karni and Erez crossings have suffered numerous terrorist attacks during the past five years.

Last Friday, IDF forces uncovered a tunnel which had been dug in the direction of Israel, in the area of Erez crossing, which was several dozen meters long and was meant for infiltrating into Israel.

Two major terrorist attacks have been carried out at the Karni crossing:

On January 13, 2005, a coordinated terrorist attack was carried out at the Karni goods crossing by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Hamas, and the Popular Resistance Committees.  The terrorists detonated an explosive device near the wall between the Israeli side and the Palestinian side of the crossing, creating a large hole in the wall which enabled three terrorists to infiltrate the Israeli side of the crossing and open fire in all directions, murdering six Israelis and wounding five others.

Among those responsible for the attack was Hassan Mad’hun, a senior Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades"terrorist who was killed in a security forces activity on November 1, 2005. Mad’hun led an infrastructure which focused primarily on planning and carrying out terrorist attacks at the Karni and Erez crossings. Following a number of attacks directed by Mad’hun, the two crossings were closed several times during the past two years, disrupting the daily lives of Palestinian civilians who were not involved in terror activity.

Another terrorist attack at the Karni crossing took place on April 15, 2003. A suicide bomber belonging to the Hama terrorist organization entered the crossing hidden in a merchandise crate inside the vehicle of a merchant who had an entry permit into the area. The suicide bomber was dropped off by the vehicle inside the crossing, armed with a handgun, hand grenades and an explosive belt, and began to shoot and throw hand grenades inside the crossing. The suicide bomber was shot and killed by IDF soldiers and security guards at the crossing. Two Israelis were murdered and three others were wounded in the attack.

In addition to these terrorist attacks, which were carried out at the crossings themselves, terror groups have used the crossings to dispatch terrorists into Israel to carry out attacks:

On March 14, 2004, two terrorists, members of Hamas and Fatah, carried out a suicide bombing attack at the Ashdod port, murdering 10 Israeli civilians and wounding 12 others. The two were concealed inside a crate with a double panel, along with explosive devices, hand grenades and additional equipment.

In March 1996, the Islamic Jihad terrorist dispatched a terrorist carrying a suitcase loaded with explosives into Tel Aviv via the Karni crossing. The terrorist hid inside a truck which served for the transport of goods to the crossing. Thirteen Israeli civilians were killed and 125 were wounded in the suicide bombing attack that the terrorist carried out on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv. Following the attack, security regulations at the crossing were changed.

Terrorists have also commonly used trucks transporting merchandise into and out of the Gaza Strip for the purpose of smuggling weaponry. In August 2002, Bassel Arif, a member of the Palestinian security apparatuses, stated during his questioning by security forces that for three years, Palestinians had been smuggling 1,500 assault rifles and some 500,000 bullets via the Karni crossing.

During the past several years, terror organizations have repeatedly carried out attacks at crossings, despite the disruption of the daily lives of Palestinian civilians who are not involved in terror activity.