Tunnel near Karni crossing
(Communicated by the IDF Spokesman)
On August 27, 2006, following intensive intelligence-gathering activity by the IDF and ISA, security forces were able to uncover the location of a tunnel dug from within the Gaza Strip in the direction of the Karni crossing. The tunnel was intended to be used to carry out a large-scale terror attack, apparently at the crossing itself. Forces uncovered the shaft (13 meters deep) and main infrastructure (150 meters long) of the tunnel. The tunnel entrance was found inside a house in the residential area of Sajaiya.
Due to the many security alerts regarding the intentions of terror organizations to carry out an attack on the crossing, the crossing has been intermittently closed over the past months as part of the activity to thwart such attempts. The Karni crossing is one of the main lifelines of the Palestinian population, allowing the passage of merchandise and medical supplies in and out of the Gaza Strip. Its targeting by the terror organizations, along with other crossings such as Erez and Kerem Shalom, is a deliberate attempt by terrorists to weaken the Palestinian economy. The targeting of these crossings, which are reopened again and again after attacks, is a cynical exploitation of the Israeli effort to ease the daily lives of Palestinian civilians who are not involved in terror activity.
Previous attacks at the Karni crossing
On April 26, 2006, a Popular Resistance Committees cell in the Gaza Strip under the direction of Mamtaz Dougmoush was on its way to carry out a bombing attack at the Karni crossing. In the early afternoon, three vehicles arrived at the crossing; one of them was filled with a large amount of explosives, while the other two carried armed gunmen. The plan was apparently to infiltrate the crossing, detonate the explosives along the barrier separating between the Israeli and Palestinian sides, creating an opening for the gunmen to cross over to the Israeli side, where they were to open fire at Israeli civilians and security personnel operating the crossing.
On 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 crossing.
On January 13, 2005, a coordinated terrorist attack was carried out at the Karni 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, killing 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 Karni crossing took place on April 15, 2003. A suicide bomber belonging to the Hamas 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 killed 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, killing 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. 13 Israeli civilians were killed and 125 were wounded in the suicide bombing attack that the terrorist carried out on Dizengof 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.