Beyond Images Challenging Myths and Presenting Facts About Israel
the escalating danger– updated

Last updated 23 March 2004 - first published 21 July 2002
Beyond Images Ref: 3

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The USA experienced a “mega-terror” attack on September 11 2001 . Europe experienced a “mega-terror” attack with the Madrid bombings of March 11 2004 .

Israel faces the danger of Palestinian “mega-terror” attacks, every day. And the Palestinian groups which attempt them are based, not thousands of miles away in remote mountain hideouts, but in towns only a few kilometres from Israel 's main population centres. They operate openly, and boast of their plans for mass murder.

The Palestinian “mega-terror” danger is escalating. A Palestinian spokesman has told Associated Press that the double suicide bomb attack on port facilities in Ashdod in southern Israel on 14 March 2004, which claimed the lives of 10 Israelis, was aimed at blowing up Ashdod's fuel storage facilities, an act which could have had catastrophic consequences not only for all port workers, but for the civilian population of Ashdod .

Since April 2002 Palestinian terrorist groups have attempted many "mega-terror" attacks against Israel , each aimed at causing massive devastation and loss of life. A combination of vigilance by Israel 's security forces, and miraculous good fortune, have prevented catastrophic outcomes. Here is a chronology of 25 of the major “mega-terror” attacks attempted in the last 2 years (as reported in The Jerusalem Report, The Jerusalem Post and Ha'aretz ):

  • Bomb plot thwarted to blow up the Azrieli twin skyscrapers in Tel Aviv: In late April 2002, Israeli security forces arrested a Palestinian group, based in the West Bank town of Qalkilya, which had been planning to explode a 1000 kilogram car bomb in the base of the Azrieli twin skyscrapers in Tel-Aviv.

  • Two bomb attacks on passenger trains: In mid-May 2002 a bomb exploded next to a passenger train near Kibbutz Ma'agan Michael. Another crowded passenger train was attacked by a track-side bomb in June 2002, outside the Israeli town of Lod. The intention in each case was presumably to derail if not destroy the trains, and kill those travelling in them.

  • Bomb attack on the Pi Glilot fuel depot: On 23 May 2002 a bomb was detonated by remote control inside the Pi Glilot gas and oil depot on the northern outskirts of Tel-Aviv. The resulting fire was extinguished but if it had caused a chain reaction of explosions inside the depot, the whole facility could have exploded, killing thousands of people in the vicinity (See Beyond Images Briefing 4 – Close to Catastrophe: The Attack on Pi Glilot).

  • Massive car bomb attack on bus at Megiddo junction: In June 2002, a suicide bomber drove a car bomb loaded with hundreds of kilograms of explosive into a passenger bus outside the Northern Israeli town of Megiddo, incinerating the bus and killing 20 Israelis. Such weapons are much more powerful than even the largest bomb carried under the clothing of a suicide bomber. A few days earlier, IDF soldiers detected and defused a 180 kilogram bomb planted near the Gaza Strip Jewish settlement of Alei Sinai - a device capable of causing vast destruction if it had detonated (and see below – half-ton bomb intercepted in Northern Israel).

  • Enormous bomb defused near Gaza : A few days earlier, IDF soldiers had detected and defused a 180 kilogram bomb planted near the Gaza Strip Jewish settlement of Alei Sinai - a device capable of causing vast destruction if it had detonated (and see below – half-ton bomb intercepted in Northern Israel ).

  • Coordinated attack on 7 coastal Israeli cities: A Palestinian group intercepted by an Israeli army team in April 2002 was reportedly planning synchronised bomb attacks on seven coastal Israeli cities.

  • Carbomb Ramming Attempt on Tel-Aviv Disco: On 24 May 2002 a security guard killed a suicide bomber driving a car laden with explosives speeding towards the entrance of the Studio 49 disco in Tel Aviv.

  • Plot to blow up the Kissufim Bridge in the Gaza Strip: In July 2002 then Israeli Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer revealed that Israeli security services had uncovered a plot to blow up the Kissufim bridge, which is the main road bridge leading out of the Gaza Strip.

  • Rishon Lezion fuel tanker bomb: : In August 2002 a small bomb exploded underneath a fuel tanker in a garage in the central Israeli town of Rishon Lezion. The fuel tanker failed to ignite.

  • Half-ton bomb intercepted in Northern Israel On 5 September 2002 Israeli border policemen intercepted two vehicles in Northern Israel, one of them packed with 1300 pounds of explosives, two containers of fuel and metal objects designed to maximise casualties.

  • Grenade attack on high school intercepted: On 3 November 2002 security forces in Hebron arrested three Hamas members who were (according to security services) planning an attack on a high school in Hebron, armed with guns and grenades.

  • Near-miss missile attack on Israeli airliner in Mombasa: On 28 November 2002 terrorists fired two ground-to-air missiles at an Israeli airliner, which had just taken off for Israel from Mombasa airport in Kenya. The missiles narrowly missed the Arkia plane, which was carrying 271 passengers and crew. Al-Qaeda later claimed responsibility.

  • Plot to shoot down VIP helicopter over the Israeli Parliament:In December 2002 a group of Jerusalem Arabs were arrested on various charges of plotting terrorist attacks. Among their plans was to shoot down a helicopter which frequently shuttles VIPs to and from the Israeli Parliament (the Knesset) and whose flight path went over the place of work of one of the members of the arrested group.

  • Plot to bomb Jerusalem sports stadium: In January 2003 Jerusalem police intercepted a suicide bomber as he entered the city who later confessed that he had been on his way to attack the Teddy Kollek sports stadium when it was packed with people.

  • Nine attempts to shoot down airliners taking off from Israel 's Ben Gurion airport: In February 2004 Israeli security services revealed that 9 attempts had been made by Palestinian groups to shoot surface-to-air missiles at planes arriving at or leaving Ben Gurion international airport in Central Israel . It was explained that this was a key reason for the route of the security fence in that part of central Israel , namely to keep future Palestinian missile attacks out of range.

  • Attempt to blow up the fuel storage facilities at Ashdod port: On 14 March 2004, two suicide bombers killed ten port workers in Ashdod , Southern Israel . A Palestinian spokesman later told a news agency from Gaza city that the attackers had intended to blow up the Ashdod port fuel storage facility.

Beyond Images Conclusion

The "mega-terror" attacks which Palestinian groups have launched in the last two years, could have killed thousands of Israelis. They are intended to inflict utter devastation on the country sabotage attempts to improve the situation, and to provoke a heavy Israeli response.

Israel 's critics outside the country routinely describe Israeli security policies as being "excessive". The security fence, checkpoints, military incursions against terrorist centres of operations and targeted killings of known Hamas leaders are condemned as “disproportionate” and as violations of Palestinian human rights.

But these policies can only be judged in the context of the “mega-terror” threats which Israel faces. For Israel 's security planners, a main purpose of the security fence is to foil future “mega-terror” attacks, or at least complicate the effort to carry them out.

Those who criticise Israel 's security policies need to ask two questions: what would be legitimate conduct for their own government, if faced with a similar catalogue of “mega-terror” attempts? And how would these critics feel if their own family and friends were in the direct firing line of “mega-terrorists”?