Israeli Minister: Hezbollah Has Infiltrated Gaza

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Thursday that Hezbollah agents have infiltrated the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).

The infiltration began in earnest following Israel's 2005 withdrawal and subsequent destruction of 21 Jewish communities in the Gush Katif Settlement Bloc in Gaza and four in northern Samaria.

The Palestinians built terrorist training camps and rocket launching sites in northern Gaza after Israel razed the communities.

Ya'alon said Hezbollah has a unit - called "1800" - designated specifically to train Palestinians, both in Gaza and in areas Judea and Samaria under Palestinian Authority control.

"Hezbollah experts can get into the Gaza Strip like Iranian rockets are coming to the Gaza Strip," the former IDF chief of staff explained to a group of reporters.

Ya'alon said the Lebanese-based terrorists travel first to Sudan and from there make their way to the Egyptian Sinai, where they enter Gaza through the arms smuggling tunnels near the Rafah crossing.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum denied Ya'alon's statements, saying that "all the factions in Gaza are Palestinian."

Despite Barhoum's claim, Palestinian terror groups in the Hamas-controlled coastal enclave are firing longer-range Grad-type Katyusha rockets from time to time - in addition to Kassam rockets and mortar shells - on southern Israel.

During the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006, Hezbollah launched an estimated 4,000 Katyushas on northern Israel.

The IDF estimates that Iran and Syria have brought Hezbollah's missile stockpile to upwards of 40,000. 

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