Shin Bet Chief: Al-Qaida Affiliated Groups Behind Gaza Violence

The security services head spoke to Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee after IDF opened fire on militants on Gaza border earlier in the day.

The head of Shin Bet security services said on Tuesday that al-Qaida affiliated groups were behind some of the Gaza violence, after militants set off a bomb along the Gaza-Israel border earlier in the day.

While speaking to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Diskin said, "there are about 500 militant activists that identify with this idea there, and some are in touch with al-Qaida's regional command."

Israeli artillery on the Gaza border - AP

On Tuesday, Israel Defense Forces soldiers opened fire on Palestinians approaching the fence on the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip near Kibbutz Kfar Aza. In a later response to the incident, the IDF said the Palestinians had detonated an explosive device near troops who were on a routine patrol of the border with Gaza. Soldiers later saw militants handling explosives and opened fire.

The violence took place despite the fact Hamas rulers urged armed groups in Gaza last week to refrain from attacking Israel, warning that continued violence could threaten an unwritten cease-fire that followed the Gaza war.

"All the factions in Gaza want an Islamic caliphate," Diskin said. "Hamas wants to achieve that through charity organizations, while other more radical groups want the same goal through violence."

He also complained during the meeting that Egypt was not doing enough to prevent militants smuggling weapons into Gaza.

"If the Egyptians wanted to they could end weapons smuggling to Gaza in 48 hours," Diskin said. "They have only 14 kilometers of border with Gaza."

Security forces foiled 140 terror attempts out of the Gaza Strip last year, Diskin noted at the meeting.

There has been an increase in incidences of Israeli Arabs involved in terror against Israel, Diskin also noted at the meeting. Fourty-six Israeli Arabs were arrested in 2010 for involvement in terror against Israel, as opposed to the twenty-four arrested in 2009.