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IDF faces unprecedented level of IED attacks

Use of IEDs and ‘civilian’ spotters signal new Iranian strategy to distract Israel

Explosion at Joseph’s Tomb, Aug. 30, 2023 (Photo: Screenshot)

Following the improvised explosive device attack responsible for injuring several Israel Defense Forces soldiers near Joseph’s Tomb on Wednesday, IDF commandos have issued a warning about its lack of readiness to combat a growing wave of IED attacks targeting its forces operating in Judea and Samaria.

The group of commandos warned that the IDF does not have sufficient armored vehicles for anti-terror operations in light of the increasing use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by terror groups within the Palestinian territories.

The new threat, which has come into focus with the discovery of several IED-production laboratories in Palestinian territories, is believed to be part of an Iranian strategy to increase pressure on Israel close to home.

Security officials believe Iran is providing both technical know-how and funding to develop the IEDs. Iran has already admitted that it engages in weapons smuggling to the terror groups in Judea and Samaria, internationally known as the West Bank.

Israeli officials have regularly warned of Iranian attempts to destabilize the region through weapons smuggling to Palestinian terror groups and direct weapons transfers to the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon.

In July, the IDF announced that it had prevented a smuggling attempt from Jordan, but did not release details. Last week, the IDF revealed that the smuggling attempt involved Iranian-made explosives.

In late August, the IDF and Shin Bet, Israel's security agency, announced the arrest of four Arab-Israeli citizens who were attempting to smuggle weapons from Hezbollah in Lebanon into Israel.

Shin Bet released a statement at the time directly attributing the smuggling attempt to Hezbollah and Iran.

"This affair once again illustrates the efforts of terrorist elements from Hezbollah and Iran to exploit the Arab citizens of Israel for activities against the state. Also, the investigation revealed that the seam between terror and criminality is extremely thin,” the statement read.

In a recent article, Hebrew news site Walla! stated that the IDF's Operation Home and Garden specifically targeted IED laboratories that had been identified by Shin Bet. The security agency was concerned that the increasing use of IEDs would hurt Israel’s tactical advantage in the Palestinian territories.

During Operation Home and Garden, the IDF used bulldozers to dig up over one kilometer (more than half a mile) of roads within the Jenin refugee camp. This move was heavily criticized by Palestinian groups, including the Palestinian Authority (PA), as an attempt to unnecessarily destroy Palestinian infrastructure.

However, IDF officials released a video showing the explosion of several IEDs that had been planted inside the road specifically to target IDF jeeps, which have less shielding against explosive devices.

A couple of weeks later, an IDF operation in the Nur al-Shams refugee camp also found IEDs embedded in the roads.

The Walla! news article also referred to the use of spotters, those who watch for IDF activity and coordinate the timing of IED explosions to achieve the maximum number of casualties.

Recent articles in the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs have highlighted the use of such spotters for a variety of terror operations.

While the use of spotters became known following the highly-publicized death of Jana Zakarna in December, their use has only grown during the intervening months.

The use of IEDs and spotters also appears to be part of Iran's new strategy, meant to both defame Israel in the public press and inflict higher casualties on military operations, according to analysts. They believe that Iran hopes to use this strategy to keep Israel distracted and, therefore, unable to engage in serious planning or attempts to destroy the ayatollah regime's nuclear weapons program.

Both Prime Minister Benjamin Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant have repeatedly blamed Iran for the increase in Palestinian violence.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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