Forewarned, Truck Drivers Escaped Gaza Attackers

The terror attack yesterday on the fuel depot near the Karni terminal on the Gaza border, in which Palestinian gunmen killed two Israelis, appears to have been planned as a way of abducting an Israeli soldier or civilian, said Israel Defense Forces officials.

This assessment is bolstered by the presence, on the Palestinian side of the crossing, of two cars that were apparently meant to bring back the victim or victims of the kidnapping into Gaza.

The attack took place around 3 P.M., as Palestinians fired mortar shells at the fuel depot to cover the infiltration of four or five terrorists across the Gaza border fence, which an IDF source said they cut through.

Palestinian coordinators responsible for transferring fuel near the Karni terminal on the Gaza border warned the Israeli workers at the fuel depot about terrorist infiltration into Israel a short time before the attack, Yoav Peled, the security officer for the Sha'ar Hanegev regional council, said yesterday.

"It's in the Palestinian interest for fuel to continue going into the Strip, so they passed on to the Israeli side, to the guys who were working there, the information that there's an infiltration and they warned them," said Peled. The truck drivers got free and managed to escape, and the two fatalities were killed trying to flee, he said.

The two Israelis were shot from very short range. Witnesses said the terrorists fired a grenade at the victims even after they were dead, to make sure there was no chance of survival.

"The terrorists threw a grenade," said a witness to the aftermath of the attack, who arrived a few minutes later. "It was a difficult sight to see the two bodies. The terrorists got quite close to them and shot them from close range." IDF troops arrived on the scene shortly after the infiltration, killing two of the Palestinians and spurring the others to flee back to Gaza. An Israel Air Force plane struck one of the escape vehicles.

The two Israelis killed in the attack had been veteran employees at the fuel depot, where they coordinated the transfer of fuel to the Palestinians, said Rafi Babayan, the security officer for the Sdot Hangev regional council. "They've been here for years, providing a basic service," said Babayan. He added that the terror attack seems to ultimately undermine the interests of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. "Getting fuel is clearly in the Palestinian interest," said Babayan. "After all, they say that they want to operate their hospital. Now I believe that in the coming days the supply of fuel will stop."

At the depot, which is run by Dor Alon, fuel trucks send their cargo to Palestinian territory through an underground pipe.