This just in from Arutz Sheva:
IDF FOILS KIDNAPPING ATTEMPT BY ‘HORSEBACK TERRORISTS’
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
Israeli Defense Forces foiled a huge terrorist attack and kidnapping attempt shortly after dawn Monday when Golani troops identified 10 to 12 terrorists, some of them on explosive-laden horses.
The cell, affiliated with Al Qaeda, was equipped with booby-trapped vehicles and suicide belts, and the terrorists fired mortar shells while trying to cross the separation barrier near Karni under cover of early morning fog.
None of the Israeli soldiers was wounded. Israeli Air Force helicopters hovered over the area as the gun battle continued after the terrorists tried to use the shelling to trick the forces into looking for the launchers while other terrorists tried to infiltrate between Nahal Oz and Karni.
Helicopters attacked several terrorist targets, causing damage and injuries to a dozen terrorists, and the IDF closed the Karni crossing and the Nahal Oz fuel depot following the battle. Cars and at least one truck loaded with explosives blew up.
Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) director Yuval Diskin recently warned that Hamas’s reduction of rocket fire to near-zero is a tactical maneuver while it increases attacks at the separation barrier.
The IDF has killed approximately 20 Arab terrorists since the end of January’s Operation Cast Lead, and Monday morning’s attempt involved an unusually large terrorist cell.
Diskin pointed out that Hamas also is “continuing to build up its forces and increase the range and quality of its rockets as well as its capability to attack planes and tanks.” The Hamas branch of the Palestinian Authority government in Gaza also is improving and widening smuggling tunnels.
UPDATE from the Jerusalem Post:
“A very big terror attack was thwarted,” the security source said. “These terrorists were armed with a huge quantity of explosives. They launched a combined attack, using mortars, and attempted to approach the border fence with booby-trapped horses to harm our soldiers, before firing on our force.”
“Hamas did not carry out this attack but they certainly provide general coverage for these small groups,” the source continued, adding that it was too soon to know whether the cell had planned to kidnap soldiers.
“The area turned into a war zone,” the source said.
“Southern Command forces are prepared for these types of attacks, and are aware of the dangers present in the morning fog. There is always the chance terrorists will try to use it for an attack,” he added.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Monday afternoon praised the army’s “effectiveness” in foiling the attack, and said it was quite possible that one of the aims of the assault was to kidnap an IDF soldier, a claim made by Hamas television.
“The results speak for themselves, and prove the preparedness and the alertness of our forces along the Gaza border,” Barak told a Labor faction meeting. “I hope that all future operations end with the same type of result.”
Ismail Haniyeh, who heads Gaza’s Hamas government, praised the attackers as “martyrs,” and said the violence confirmed Israel’s “aggressive intentions” toward the Palestinians.
Following the attack, Israel closed the Karni crossing, the main commercial terminal between Israel and Gaza, as well as the Nahal Oz fuel depot.
However, 30,000 vaccine units against foot-and-mouth disease were transferred to Gaza via the Erez crossing, despite the thwarted attack. The IDF said that 125,000 units had been supplied to the Strip in the last three months in three separate transfers, due to the importance of preventing the outbreak of the disease.
In addition, 140 truckloads of humanitarian aid was scheduled to be transferred via the Kerem Shalom crossing.