JERUSALEM – In what is sure to be a major embarrassment for the Palestinian Authority, a group linked to PA President Mahmoud Abbas fired a Qassam rocket that landed yesterday just outside Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s ranch with the intention of killing the Jewish leader, a terror leader whose group also took part in the rocket launching told WND.

“That rocket was fired by us in conjunction specifically with the united leadership of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. It was intended to kill Sharon, and thank God we are getting closer and closer to our target,” said Abu Abir, spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees.

The Committees is a network of Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists that has taken responsibility for many of the rockets fired at Israeli towns the past few years and for more than a dozen suicide attacks.

The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades was established in 2000 to serve as the military wing of Abbas’ Fatah Party.

Abir’s statement marks the first time the Brigades has taken specific credit for a rocket fired toward Sharon’s ranch.

The rocket last night slammed into a water pumping facility adjacent to Sharon’s southern Negev ranch, causing damage but no injuries. The Israeli Defense Forces early-warning system had picked up the rocket’s movement toward the populated Negev town of Sderot, and residents were instructed to take shelter. But the rocket flew past Sderot and hit across from Sharon’s Sycamore Ranch.

Abir echoed remarks he made in a previous WND interview in which he warned the rocket fire would continue until every Jew leaves Israel, “including their bones and their graves.”

“We have a very accurate map of Sderot, and of each and every street in and near the city, including Sharon’s ranch,” Abir said. “During the Intifada, we launched many rockets at the ranch, and thanks to God, every new rocket firing gets closer to its goal [of hitting Sharon.]”

“We shall use these rockets against Sderot, against Sharon’s ranch and against every city in Israel any time there is need to do so. The Israelis shall wait for surprises from the Palestinian resistance. … If there is need, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and everywhere in Israel can become our target. Israelis must also know that we have already transferred the knowledge and the technology of producing rockets to the West Bank.”

The Palestinians have fired hundreds of rockets at Israel from Gaza. The vast majority are fired by Hamas, Islamic Jihad or the Committees.

Since Israel’s evacuation of Jewish communities from the Strip this past summer, there has been mounting evidence terror groups are transferring their rockets into Judea and Samaria – within launching distance of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Last month, Israel said it caught members of the Committees crossing from Egypt into the northern Negev, and said interrogations revealed they received funds and training from Hezbollah to set up Qassam factories in the West Bank.

Earlier, WND reported exclusively Israeli troops said they arrested an Arab at a West Bank roadblock near Jerusalem with a mortar shell and launching mechanism. Security sources told WND at the time the arrest was “very sensitive,” allegedly because a gag order was immediately placed on the case. The arrest has not yet been reported by the Israeli media.

WND also recently reported a research center associated with Hamas announced last month in a published study the terror group views Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza as a victory for “Palestinian resistance” and will now continue the next phase of its “war to destroy the Jewish state” by focusing on rocket and mortar attacks in the West Bank.

According to the Al-Mustaqbal Research Center in Gaza, Hamas and other “Palestinian resistance groups” will extend their rocket-producing capabilities to the West Bank since Israel’s security barrier in the area has made terrorist infiltrations and suicide bombings difficult.

“After the construction of the fence, [suicide attacks] have become extremely difficult. … However, Qassam attacks cannot be stopped easily. … [T]he fence is useless against such attacks,” states the study, which said Palestinian groups will move mortars and rockets into the West Bank “in large quantities.”

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