Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told members of his Kadima party Tuesday night that terrorists who are firing mortar shells and Kassam rockets at Israel will not be able to hide from the IDF.
The warning was issued after a 14-hour period in which at least 11 Islamic Jihad and Hamas terrorists in Gaza were eliminated by IAF fighter pilots. The dead included Majed Harazin, the most senior Islamic Jihad terror commander to be killed by Israeli forces in more than a year, as well as several other top field commanders in the terrorist organization.
The air strikes followed an intensified spate of mortar and Kassam rocket attacks on communities in the western Negev that began earlier in the week. On Sunday a two-year-old toddler was lightly injured, and seven people, including the baby's pregnant mother, suffered shock when a rocket hit a house in Kibbutz Zikim.
"Anyone who is responsible for the firing on our communities, we will reach him," vowed Olmert. "The actions will speak for themselves, and the heads of the terror groups will feel it."
As IAF planes raced through the skies over Gaza, mortars and rockets were flying into the western Negev. One Kassam exploded directly in an IDF army base near Kibbutz Zikim. Five female soldiers suffered shock, and one was evacuated to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon for follow-up treatment.
Earlier, one Kassam rocket landed harmlessly in an area north of Sderot Tuesday night. Mortars also landed harmlessly in open fields outside of Kibbutz Nachal Oz and Kibbutz Kerem Shalom Tuesday afternoon.
At the funeral for the killed terrorists in Gaza, the Islamic Jihad group ordered its operatives to turn off their cell phones, remove the batteries and stay out of their cars in order to avoid tracking by the IDF.
Israeli Officials Update US Security Envoy
Top Israeli officials met individually with United States Middle East security envoy General James Jones during his 24-hour whirlwind visit to the Jewish State.
Prime Minister Olmert pledged his cooperation with General James Jones's assignment to oversee compliance by Israel and the Palestinian Authority in fulfilling their commitments under the American Roadmap peace plan.
Part of the plan requires the PA to cease all terrorism and violence against Israeli citizens and dismantle terrorist infrastructure.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi met with Jones at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, along with a number of Israeli and American diplomatic and defense officials.
The American general was briefed on the security challenges facing Israel. with a specific focus on the intense situation in Gaza and related issues in Judea and Samaria.
Lt.-Gen. Ashkenazi also explained to the American envoy methods used by the IDF to combat these security threats.