Israeli Terror Target Town Warned
To Prepare For New Attack
By Philip Jacobson in Hadera
The Telegraph

The town of Hadera, which after Jerusalem has suffered more bombings and drive-by shootings than anywhere in Israel, has become a place of closed doors and shuttered windows following reports that a suicide bomber has penetrated a security cordon.
Israeli military intelligence warned Hadera last week that a would-be killer was poised to strike - only days after four women were shot dead in daylight in the main street.
Most of the attacks have been the work of Palestinians from the "triangle of terror" in the West Bank, bounded by Jenin, Tulkarm and Kalkilya - all hotbeds of Islamic militancy. They are close to Hadera, which lies in the narrow "waistline" of Israel, about 25 miles north of Tel Aviv.
The town's residents, many of whom have been wounded in attacks, are feeling the strain. In the busy central market, where the poorest Russian and Ethiopian immigrants do their shopping, fear gripped the crowd one day last week when a car backfired.
An elderly woman dropped her shopping and clutched at the arm of a passer-by; a mother snatched her baby from its pram and rushed behind a building. Only when a police van appeared carrying armed officers was there an almost tangible release of tension.
Constant Threat: The People of Hadera are
Considered Soft Targets for Terrorists
"The 80,000 Jews here live every day with the knowledge that they are a soft target for the terrorists, whose bases are on our doorstep," said the mayor, Israel Sadan. "There are too many back roads and unmarked tracks for our security forces to close off, so we have to rely on good intelligence-gathering to provide advance warning."
There was no such warning last Sunday, however, when a two-man team from the Islamic Jihad organisation, riding in a stolen vehicle bearing Israeli number plates, raked the centre of town with bullets. Four women waiting at a bus stop outside the library on Hanessi Street were gunned down. One of the undercover police squads that constantly roam Hadera quickly arrived and shot both gunmen dead.
"It could be said that we were lucky because they didn't get a chance to use the extra ammunition they were carrying," said Mr Sadan. "For me, though, I think of these ordinary women who left home one morning and never came back - simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time."
One of them, Ayala Levy, 39, worked at a kindergarten. The joys of her life were her two daughters, aged four and five, which she had conceived after a decade of trying.
"She and her husband were so happy, looking forward so much to moving into a new house," said her sister Anat. "Ayala felt that we should respect the Arabs, but always be on our guard with them. All she really wanted was a quiet life."
The youngest of the victims was Smadar Levy, 23, whose ambition was to study medicine and who loved dancing. She and her new boyfriend, a policeman, were thinking about marriage. "They were like a pair of turtle doves," said a relative. "She had so many plans for the future."
Another keen young dancer, Vered Yarimi, 16, was among a dozen people wounded. Her mother carried her bloodstained shoes to the hospital, where the schoolgirl kept asking her: "Will I ever walk again?"
As a former commander of the Border Guard unit, mayor Sadan is familiar with the problems of security along the "seam" separating Israel from territory under the control of Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority.
Back in 1995, he suggested to the then prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, that it might become necessary to construct a permanent defence line - "high fences, electronic surveillance, watchtowers" - along the entire 220-mile frontier. The government regarded the idea as too expensive.
Earlier this month, the Israeli army mounted new incursions into Palestinian territory, positioning tanks around Jenin, Tulkarm and other trouble spots in an attempt to block terrorist access routes to vulnerable towns such as Hadera. Yet that did not prevent the slaughter on Hanessi Street, nor a drive-by shooting a few hours earlier that killed a soldier in a nearby kibbutz.
"We know for sure that these attacks involved members of the Palestinian security police - the very same forces that are supposed to be clamping down on terrorist activity," said Mr Sadan. "They could do it if they wanted to, but instead Arafat prefers to conduct himself like a gangster."
After the latest warning of a suicide bomber on the loose, residents of Hadera were urged by police loudspeakers to get children off the streets and to stay in their homes.
"The terrorists want us to know that they will hit Hadera at every opportunity," said a businessman hurrying to be with his family. "But although the town has suffered a lot, here we have something of the frontier spirit."


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