Daily Israel Report

Despite Ceasefire Talk, Five Kassams Explode in and Near Sderot

After a day of near quiet, a wave of five Kassam rockets was launched at Israel from northern Gaza Thursday morning. An Arutz Sheva TV was on the scene - live.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 6/15/2006, 1:56 PM / Last Update: 6/15/2006, 11:23 AM

Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal called on the government to resign in light of its failure to protect the city's residents. Visiting MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) decried the fact that while Sderot residents are suffering the consequences of the last withdrawal, "Olmert is abroad, declaring that the next withdrawal is a fait accompli."

An Arutz Sheva English TV crew was in Sderot filming a live shoot of the hunger strikers demanding security for their city, two Kassam rockets exploded nearby within seconds of each other.

Click below to watch the reaction of the hunger strikers, visiting MKs, and some other residents to the rocket explosions. The children seen jumping up to embrace their mother are heard shouting "Ima, Ima" (Mommy, mommy); at the 15-second mark, a second Kassam can be heard exploding further away, and the children cry out, "Ima, od echad!" (Mommy, another one!).

A visit interrupted by a Kassam rocket.
Email readers, click here to view the TV clip




The crew was filming a visit of National Union-National Religious Party Knesset members to a tent where five hunger-strikers are demanding a massive anti-Gaza offensive to restore security to the city. Two of the hunger-strikers fainted, and Knesset Member Dr. Aryeh Eldad, formerly Chief Medical Officer of the IDF, treated them on the scene. The strikers, who have been fasting since Monday, said they plan to suspend their strike for the upcoming Sabbath, and will resume it afterwards.

Another Kassam rocket late this morning destroyed the roof of a Sderot capentry shop, wounding one man in the eye with shrapnel. Two people were treated for shock.

On Wednesday, Israel informed Hamas Authority leader Haniye that he himself could be the next target of Israeli missiles if the Kassam rockets don't stop. According to some reports, Haniye ordered them stopped.

At the same time, Hamas administrators were preparing a ceasefire offer to Israel: Israel must stop all targeted killings of terrorists, and Hamas will cease its rocket fire. However, Hamas is not the only terrorist outfit in Gaza, and in fact Islamic Jihad, Fatah and the Popular Resistance Committees have not agreed to stop their attacks on Israel.

After firing more than 100 rockets from Friday through Tuesday, Hamas was, in fact, quiet yesterday. Only one Kassam was fired in the course of the day - an Islamic Jihad affair that landed close to a strategic infrastructure just south of Ashkelon. The rocket caused no damage.

Israeli officials have implied all along that Israel would not initiate an escalation in hostilities, but would only respond to attacks by the terrorists.

Israeli aircraft targeted a car full of terrorists in Gaza on their way to firing a rocket at Israel on Tuesday. The first missile just missed the car, but IDF film clips show a powerful Grad rocket - of longer-range than a regular Kassam - being removed from the car. The next missile killed the three terrorists as well as eight bystanders. After this incident, and after Haniye received word that he himself, and other Hamas leaders, could be targeted next, the order was given to halt the Kassams.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz told that Committee yesterday that Israel has no interest in escalation. However, he warned, if rockets continued to be fired at Israel, no one in Hamas will be immune to Israeli attack. Similarly, MK Tzachi HaNegbi (Kadima), Chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said this morning that if the Kassam rockets stop, there will be no need for targeted attacks at rocket launching cells.

Calls to Re-Conquer Gaza
The Hamas ceasefire offer comes just as Israeli calls for a large ground offensive in Gaza are increasing. The hunger-strikers in rocket-besieged Sderot are demanding just that, and military historian Col. (ret.) Dr. Meir Pa'il - an expert in general, military and Middle Eastern history, and a veteran of 28 years in the Palmach and IDF who served in various command positions - said Wednesday, "The only way to achieve quiet in Gaza is by conquering it again. It could be that we'll continue this way [Kassam attacks and retaliatory targeted killings] for another year or so, and then everyone will reach the same conclusion."

In addition, a senior IDF officer presented the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Wednesday with three alternatives, one of which was sending troops into northern Gaza. Also under consideration is the targeting of Palestinian Authority infrastructures, and continuing the covert activity against Kasssam rocket launchers.

MK Yuval Shteinitz (Likud), who served in the last Knesset as Chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said this week, "We will end up returning to Gaza, either before or after something happens." He also suggested, as a minimum measure, shutting down electricity in Gaza after every Kassam attack.

Former IDF officer Amram Mitzna, a one-time Labor Party national prime ministerial candidate who strongly supported Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, said this week, "Blast them, give it to them... We've left Gaza already, and the government of Israel has no right not to respond to the bombardment of Israeli communities in the State of Israel."