Militant groups have ties with Palestinians, Israeli army says

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

JERUSALEM -- An overnight raid on the main Palestinian security compound in Gaza turned up anti-tank missiles, grenades and equipment to make other weapons, proving Palestinian security forces were supplying arms to militant groups, the Israeli army said Monday.

The three-hour raid left the Palestinian Preventive Security force complex in ruins. Palestinians denied the charges, saying the base was evacuated a year ago and has stood empty since.

Palestinians have pointed to raids like this when rebutting Israeli charges that Palestinian security is not doing enough to stop attacks by militants, saying that Israel itself is responsible for decimating the official forces.

Late Monday, Israeli forces struck again, with helicopters and tanks targeting a building in Gaza City. Witnesses and officials said helicopters and tanks fired machine guns and shells. Several buildings were demolished, but no serious injuries were reported.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said the raid showed the "tight connection between the security forces of the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian terror groups."

Rashid Abu Shabak, head of preventive security in Gaza, toured the demolished compound Monday and denied it was a weapons factory.

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