Defense official: Rockets on northern Israel ‘just a matter of time’

Emboldened terror groups in Judea and Samaria are following the Gazan model of manufacturing and launching rockets, says former IDF official.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Rockets originating from Palestinian terror groups in Judea and Samaria will soon be launched at communities in northern Israel, including the coastal city of Hadera, according to a senior Defense Ministry official.

Lt. Col. Yaron Buskila, former head commander of the IDF’s operations in Judea and Samaria and current secretary general of the Security Movement thinktank, said that the Jezreel Valley near Haifa area is also likely to be in the line of fire.

Buskila told Hebrew-language news site Kipa that Judea and Samaria-based terror groups have been working on manufacturing their own rockets for some 15 years. Creating a crude rocket “is a very simple thing,” he noted.

However, Buskila said that the IDF had made a strategic decision in recent times to maintain a minimal presence in northern Samaria. That move, Buskila contended, was a major mistake that has allowed terror groups to advance their operations and led to a dearth of critical intelligence needed to thwart terror plots.

Buskila said that the Israeli military had also erred by not capitalizing on the momentum of the July large-scale counter-terror offensive in Jenin dubbed Operation Home and Garden, saying that the raid should have been leveraged as a starting point for additional operations.

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“The political echelon made a decision to reduce the [IDF] presence again. This means that the terrorist organizations are re-strengthening and regaining their capabilities, which also include trying to fire rockets,” he told Kipa.

“When they go out today to test their rockets, they do it in an open area, where we have observation capabilities – which they are fearful of…But like how in Gaza they eventually succeeded, here too it is only a matter of time.”

Boaz Atzani, a colleague of Buskila’s in the security movement and a Judea and Samaria tour guide, expressed pessimism that the phenomenon would decrease in the near future. Referencing recent public announcements that terror groups had launched rockets from Judea and Samaria at Israeli cities near the Green Line, such as Beit She’an, Atzani said that the situation was reminiscent of the early days of rocket launches from the Gaza Strip.

“The fear that these launches will become routine is very great,” Atzani told Kipa.

“The first targets will be the kibbutzim and moshavim [in the Jezreel Valley], and after that it will spread. It needs to be squashed now, while it’s still small, or else things will deteriorate.”