Israeli army official warns of potential terror attacks

JERUSALEM — Echoing warnings from other Israeli officials, the head of army intelligence this week warned of the possibility that Islamic militants may launch attacks in the coming days against Jewish targets in Israel and abroad.

Appearing before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday, Maj. Gen. Moshe Ya'alon said an infrastructure of terrorist organizations remains active in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

He said the militant fundamentalist groups Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah would possibly launch terror attacks in the near future.

Meanwhile, Ya'alon praised the crackdown on terrorists conducted by the Palestinian Authority, which he said had recently confiscated more than 2,000 pounds of explosives, hundreds of hand grenades and large quantities of materials used to make bombs.

Earlier this week, Police Commissioner Assaf Hefetz warned that terrorist groups may launch attacks in order to change the course of Israel's May 29 national elections.

Addressing a meeting of police commanders to review preparations in the run-up to the elections, Hefetz said that even though Israeli security forces have cracked down on terrorist groups, some of these groups might still be able to carry out attacks.

Hefetz said special security measures were being taken to prevent such attacks.

Last week, police found the body of a terrorist in eastern Jerusalem, saying that he was killed when a bomb he was preparing exploded prematurely.

Police think the terrorist was on his way to carry out a suicide bombing against Israelis in downtown Jerusalem. The man planned to detonate the explosive, which was estimated to have weighed more than 20 pounds, at a bus stop or on a bus, police said.

Support for the government of Prime Minister Shimon Peres slipped after the series of suicide bombings in late February and early March.

Political observers contend that another terrorist attack could cause Israeli voters to support Peres' more hardline opponent, Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

Islamic militants believe that a Netanyahu victory could seriously impede the Middle East peace process, which they staunchly oppose.