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      IDF Taking Limited Action to Reduce Kassam Attacks

      The IDF destroyed four buildings overnight in anti-terror operations in Gaza. Defense Minister Amir Peretz has ordered the IDF to prepare plans to slow, but not eliminate Kassam rocket fire.
      By Alex Traiman
      First Publish: 11/17/2006, 10:29 AM / Last Update: 11/17/2006, 11:48 AM

      The air force struck buildings in Rafah, Beit Lahiya, Jabalya and Khan Yunis before Friday morning, in response to a recent onslaught of Kassam rocket attacks on the Israeli cities of Sderot and Ashkelon which left one dead, and two others in serious condition.

      According to the IDF, three of the destroyed buildings were being used as Hamas weapons storage facilities, while the fourth was a weapons production facility belonging to Islamic Jihad. Warnings were given to the local populations prior to the aerial attacks.

      Peretz has ordered the IDF to prepare plans to reduce the number of rockets being fired into Israeli towns, calling the current situation unacceptable. “We are continuing our policy of pressure on the South,” Peretz stated Thursday. The defense minister said, however, that he does not believe the IDF will successfully put an end to rocket attacks, adding that a limited number of attacks will be an acceptable reality.

      Residents of Sderot are calling on the government to order the IDF to bring a complete halt to the ongoing rocket attacks into Israeli population centers. Two additional Kassams pounded Sderot Friday morning.

      Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal told the media this week that the city’s residents are strong and will endure, “but this does not release the government from its basic responsibilities, to protect its citizens.”

      An IDF Spokesperson this morning stated, “The IDF will continue to act with determination in order to defend the citizens of the State of Israel, and will continue to employ all means at its disposal to combat terrorists and their supporters, in order to uphold the security of the citizens of Israel.”

      Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told reporters Thursday, “There is no doubt that the attacks yesterday in Sderot and Ashkelon were difficult.” However, Olmert claims, there is no “quick fix” to halt rocket attacks from Gaza, stating, “there is not one thing you can do and the Kassam attacks will stop.”

      Both Olmert and Peretz told reporters that the Palestinian Authority is the only body which can completely cease all Kassam attacks. Olmert says he expects greater action from PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, adding that the PA could stop rocket attacks if it had the will.

      Environment Minister Gideon Ezra, who previously served as Minister of Public Security and deputy head of the GSS countered late Thursday afternoon that the way to stop the Kassam rocket attacks from Gaza is for Israel to temporarily suspend all military operations in the area.

      “There is a need to stop the fighting for a limited time and gauge how the Palestinians will react,” Ezra stated. “If they don’t adhere to our conditions, we will flatten the Strip."

      Peretz stated in a meeting with Shin Bet General Security Services director Yuval Diskin, and IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz that he is awaiting internal changes within the PA that would strengthen moderates who could prevent the continued rocket fire.

      “If this doesn’t happen,” according to Peretz, “Israel will deal a painful and heavy blow to the terrorists.”