Daily Israel Report

Olmert Ordered: IDF May Not Fire at Kassam Rocket Terrorists

The current IDF policy is not to open fire at terrorist rocket-launching teams. Ashkelon, Sderot and other Negev areas were again targets of Palestinian Authority rocket attacks Tuesday.
By Hillel Fendel and Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
First Publish: 12/26/2006, 2:29 PM / Last Update: 12/26/2006, 9:10 AM

Six rockets were fired at Israel Tuesday. One of them landed near a strategic infrastructure in Ashkelon, just a few days after another Kassam landed in the same place. Another rocket landed in the city of Sderot, sending several residents into shock and causing property damage, and others fell near Negev kibbutzim.

Local residents reported that during the Kassam shelling, the Color Red early warning system did not sound its alarm. Generally, the alarm gives residents a brief warning of incoming projectiles fired from the Palestinian Authority.

Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip have fired some 60 rockets at Jewish civilian targets in southern Israel since the PA and Israel agreed to a ceasefire a month ago. Government leaders continue to reiterate that their restraint in the face of the ongoing rocket attacks is wearing thin, even as they continue to maintain a unilateral commitment to the ceasefire.

The IDF's No-Fire Policy
Brig.-Gen. Sammy Turgeman, head of the IDF Operations Division, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday, "If soldiers are directly endangered, they may open fire - but they may not do so [merely] to thwart a terror cell. Even if a rocket launching cell is detected in an open area, the forces are not permitted to open fire."

Defense Minister Amir Peretz, who participated in the session, said he objects to this policy, as it "enables Islamic Jihad to walk freely around with no fear of getting hit... But Prime Minister Olmert said that the no-fire policy applies even in open areas, and no one in the Cabinet argued." Peretz said he is demanding another discussion of the issue.

Gen. Turgeman also warned the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that in a matter of months, "We will face Hamas military capabilities in Gaza that we have never faced before. This includes terrorists who have been trained in a wide range of activities, improved sniping capabilities, anti-tank missiles, and more... They are developing army-like capabilities."

Brig.-Gen. Yosef Baidatch, head of the IDF Intelligence Research Wing, told the committee that Hamas is benefiting greatly from the current ceasefire: "Hamas is using this period to strengthen itself, and is [therefore] very interested in having a similar calm in Judea and Samaria as well so that it will be able to strengthen itself there as well."

Meanwhile, enemy gunmen opened fire at an IDF unit operating in the Shomron city of Shechem (Nablus) in the early morning hours on Tuesday. The attackers also threw an explosive charge at the soldiers. There were no casualties nor property damage in those attacks.