Army Begs: Let Us Fire Back!

The government's restraint in the face of the rocket attacks is "immoral," "ineffective," and must end. So say various IDF officers, as Olmert convenes an emergency security meeting this morning.

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Hillel Fendel, | updated: 09:40

Defense Minister Amir Peretz said it last night, following the serious wounding of two boys in Sderot by a Kassam rocket, and increasing numbers of army officers are now saying it publicly as well: The policy of restraint must end.

Peretz told Olmert last night that Israel can no longer afford to restrain its fire. IDF forces are currently not permitted even to fire at a Kassam rocket launching cell, unless the soldiers' lives are directly and immediately endangered.

Col. (ret.) Moshe Hager, a deputy division head during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, told Arutz-7, "The current policy is immoral - not because of any given Kassam attack, but because every minute, Gaza is becoming more and more like Lebanon, as the terrorists increase their military capabilities. The Negev will soon be lost to us, at this rate."

Hager's recommendation is to "conquer all of Gaza, kill all the terrorists, install mayors whom we support, and realize that the Palestinian Authority has not fulfilled its Oslo commitments and that the Oslo Accords no longer exist... At the very least, the northern Gaza areas must be conquered in order to shorten the range of Kassam rockets. In addition, the Philadelphi corridor in southern Gaza must also be conquered; it will be hard, but it's absolutely imperative, in order to crumble the terrorist infrastructures, just like during Operation Defensive Shield."

An unnamed government source, quoted on Voice of Israel Radio, said that the security establishment would recommend putting an end to restraint and taking military action against the rocket launchers.

"The IDF's inaction gives immunity to the rocket launching cells," an unnamed army official told Ynet. "In the past, a terrorist who went out on a rocket launching mission thought seven times whether it was worth it and what were the chances that he would be hit. Now, he doesn't have to think even twice."

Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Yom Tov Samiyeh, a former IDF Southern Region Commander, told Army Radio today that if we don't want to end up having to re-conquer all of Gaza - "and I don't want to; who needs it?" - then we had better implement smaller-scale military measures to uproot the terrorist infrastructure there.

It is assumed that Prime Minister Olmert is still trying to fulfill his promises to Palestinian Authority chairman Abu Mazen at their Saturday night meeting. Olmert promises to remove many security checkpoints throughout Judea and Samaria - though the army is reviewing the issue and this will not happen until next week at the earliest. Olmert also promised to free up $100 million in tax monies that Israel had been withholding.

The wounding of the two boys last night was the climax of a day of Kassam rockets against Israel. No fewer than eight rockets were fired, the most in one day since the ceasefire took effect just over a month ago. Damage was caused, and one rocket landed dangerously close to a sensitive infrastructure in southern Ashkelon.

Noticeably differing in his approach is Yuval Diskin, the head of the General Security Service (Shabak). Diskin has recommended that Israel act diplomatically, not militarily. Just two days ago, Israel submitted a detailed complaint to the UN against the PA and its continued ceasefire violations.

Meanwhile, Shimon Peres continues to reach out to Israel's deadliest enemies. In a speech in Spain last night, the Vice Prime Minister said he believes Hamas is an "important factor" in the Middle East peace process, and that the organization should play a role in it. Israel's official position is to conduct no negotiations with Hamas as long as it continues not to recognize Israel's right to exist and calls for its destruction.