Text size

Military Intelligence Chief Major General Amos Yadlin on Tuesday said that while the border between Gaza and Egypt was breached last month, terrorists trained in Syria and Iran had infiltrated the Strip.

Referring to an incident last month when Hamas militants blew holes in the border fence between Gaza and Egypt, allowing hundreds of thousands of Gazans to cross the border freely, Yadlin said that this breach also allowed terror activists, trained in Syria and Iran, to infiltrate the Strip. He said these activists had undergone workshops and intensive training in all military fields.

Presenting the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee with a general security assessment, Yadlin estimated that large amounts of money and ammunition also made their way into the Gaza Strip during the 12 days in which the border was breached.

Army Radio quoted Yadlin as saying that Al-Qaida operatives had also infiltrated the Strip through the breach.

Yadlin said that Gazans that had entered Egypt through holes in the fence had spent $150 million on various products.

Yadlin spoke one day after a demonstration against Israel's blockade on the Gaza Strip, expected to be tens of thousands strong, turned out a disappointing 5,000 people. Hamas vowed early Monday to use any means to end the Israeli embargo on the Gaza Strip, and Israel was concerned that the demonstrators would attempt to breach the border.

He said that the Palestinians have not abandoned the plan to hold a mass protest along the Strip's borders with Israel and Egypt.

Military Intelligence: Iran could have nukes by 2010Yadlin also told the Knesset committee Tuesday that Iran could conceivably develop a "nuclear option" within two years.

The intelligence official added that the Iranians were continuing the development of nuclear material as well as nuclear weapons and will likely achieve a viable weapon in 2010.

Yadlin presented a list of existing Iranian weapons and those in development. Among other things, Iran has an arsenal of Shihab 3 missiles with a 1,300 kilometer range, Yadlin said. These missiles could potentially strike Israel. The Iranians are also developing an upgraded version of the Shihab, which will have a range of 2,000. This kind of range would allow the firing of missiles at Israel from deep inside Iran, rather than close to the border, Yadlin explained.

Yadlin also said that a missile that Iran officially presented as a means to propel satellites into space, was actually an upgraded Shihab missile painted with civilian colors.

In addition to the Shihab missiles, the Iranians are developing a weapon propelled by solid fuel that would also have a 2,000 kilometer range, Yadlin said. He added that the Iranians were assembling BM25 missiles that were arriving dismantled from North Korea. These missiles are believed to have a range of 2,500-3,000 kilometers, but the North Koreans never tested them.

Yadlin on Hezbollah: Vengeance is an integral part of Shiite cultureReferring to the February 12 car bombing assassination of Hezbollah terror mastermind Imad Mughniyah, Yadlin said that vengeance is an integral part of Shiite culture.

Speaking to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Yadlin said that in seeking to retaliate for the assassination, which it has publicly blamed on Israel, the group's goal is to generate deterrence and to strike Israel with severity.

At the same time, he added, Hezbollah is having great difficulty moving in south Lebanon due to the presence of the UNIFIL peacekeeping force. It also must contend with unwanted comparisons to Al Qaida if it strikes targets abroad, Yadlin said.

According to Yadlin, Hezbollah is not interested in confrontation in Lebanon and does not want a "second round" with Israel, as it has yet to complete the rebuilding of its forces following the 2006 war.

Neither does Hezbollah desire a civil war because "it understands what the results would be."

Yadlin said that Hezbollah may wait until the end of the traditional 40-day mourning period to avenge the death of Mughniyah.

He based his assessment on past instances in which the organization has promised to retaliate for the slaying of a commander. He cited the 1992 truck bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, which followed the IDF assassination of then-Hezbollah leader Abbas Musawi. The blast killed 29 people.

Labor MK and former Mossad chief Danny Yatom responded that "Israel must be prepared prior to the end of the 40-day period as well.

Yatom also reacted to a Monday report that Mughniyah's widow blamed Syria for the killing. "The Syrian traitors are responsible for his death," Army Radio quoted her as telling a press conference in Tehran. "Damascus' refusal to allow Iran to investigate the incident is further proof," she said.

"Hezbollah has no leads," Yatom said.

A United States federal judge said Monday that Iran must pay more than $33 million dollars to the family of a U.S.-born Israeli diplomat killed in the 1992 terror attack in Argentina

U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle said Iran was responsible for the bombing of the Israeli Embassy, ordering that damages to be paid to the family of diplomat David Ben-Rafael, who was born in the United States before emigrating to Israel.

Hezbollah accepted responsibility for the bombing, and the United States has held Iran responsible for helping finance and organize the group's activities. U.S. law normally prevents people from suing foreign nations, but an exception is made for nations that support terrorism. Iran was designated a state sponsor of terror in 1984.