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Israeli officials watch for fiercer attacks

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli intelligence officials believe Palestinian attackers are starting to choose more strategic targets in an effort to cause greater damage and casualties, following the discovery this week of a bomb beneath a tanker truck at an Israeli fuel depot.

The officials briefed an Israeli parliamentary committee earlier this week on the latest terror patterns, which appear to show a shift away from haphazard civilian targets, such as a crowded market or nightclub, and toward "quality" targets capable of doing greater harm.

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The intelligence officers mentioned a planned attack on the Azrieli Towers in Tel Aviv, the city's largest structure. They said they had found plans to destroy the towers by detonating a massive explosive charge packed into a vehicle driven into the parking basement of the building.

Israeli sources say the plot was uncovered during a raid in the West Bank city of Tulkarem. At least one Palestinian arrested during the raid provided full details of the thwarted attack, the sources said.

Thursday, a bomb attached to the underside of a tanker truck ignited the vehicle at Israel's main fuel depot just north of Tel Aviv, Israeli police said. Firefighters put out the fire quickly and no one was hurt, they said.

Tel Aviv police chief Yossi Sedbon said investigators were trying to figure out how a bomb could have gotten so close to so much highly combustible material. Locations like the fuel depot, he said, would likely be "a very good target" for militant activities.

Israeli media speculated Friday as to how many people could have been killed and how much damage done if the explosion had ignited the many gas containers in the depot.

Palestinian security sources confirmed the fears of stepped up attacks, saying that in recent weeks they have also been receiving information about plans to attack strategic Israeli targets.

The Palestinian sources said they are investigating the information, but that so far, they have been unable to trace a chain of command involving any of the known radical organizations or terror cells.

Militant groups remained defiant, with the leader of Hezbollah telling a rally of thousands in Beirut Thursday that suicide attacks cannot be contained. Hezbollah has been labeled by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization.

"No one can take from us this weapon of loving martyrdom, sacrifice, and readiness to die," said Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah. "What Palestinians possess today is this weapon that no one can take from them."

-- CNN Jerusalem Bureau Chief Mike Hanna contributed to this report.




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