The findings of the inquiry into the demolition of the buildings in Rafah on 10 Jan. 2002, were presented to the Chief of the IDF General Staff. The Chief of the IDF General Staff accepted the findings of the inquiry held in the Southern Command:
” There was a clear necessity for the operation.
” The number of buildings demolished in the operation is 21. Another building, under which a tunnel for smuggling was found, was demolished two nights later.
” Based upon the IDF observations in previous months, plus the inquiry held by the forces in the field and additional intelligence data, it was determined that the buildings demolished were not populated for a number of months. According to aerial photographs, taken a short time before the operation, nearly half of the houses were roofless before the operation took place.
” The weapons smuggled through the tunnels underneath the houses are used for terrorist attacks and pose a threat to the security of the citizens of Israel.
” The demolition of the buildings near the border markedly improves the capabilities of IDF soldiers to handle such threats.
” No Palestinians were injured during the course of the operation and no items indicating people were living in those houses were found. This raises a serious question as to the Palestinian claim that the houses were populated.
” It is to be stressed that the Palestinians carried out terrorist attacks from the area in question, and these attacks continue daily until the present.
The IDF holds the Palestinian Authority responsible for the terror attacks and the weapons smuggling in the region. Despite many warnings of the IDF to the Palestinian Authority to stop this activity, both verbally and in writing, the Palestinian Authority did nothing to stop it. It was stressed to the Palestinians that if the terrorist attacks continued it would leave the IDF no choice but to conduct operations to clear the area. The territory in question, it must be emphasized, is on the international border, and has no connection to the conflict with the Palestinians. It was established by the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. The operation was initially planned to be much more extensive. Due to time and size constraints the size of the force was reduced -and this reduction was approved. The operation took place in territory closer to where it was first supposed to take place, due to an error in navigation and the identification of where the forces were to enter. The operation took place under heavy fire from the Palestinians that included small arms fire and the throwing of grenades. The buildings demolished were all in the area defined as “Pink,” under complete Israeli jurisdiction and responsibility. The IDF will continue to act in the “Pink” area to fulfill its responsibility and its missions in this security area.