Daily Israel Report

Sderot Residents Burn Tires as Leaders Mull Reaction Options

Furious Sderot residents took to the streets after a youngster was seriously hurt in a Kassam rocket attack. Gov't promises determined response.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 2/9/2008, 10:02 PM

Dozens of furious Sderot residents took to the streets Saturday night following the Kassam attack that seriously injured two brothers, aged 8 and 19. Doctors were fighting to save the younger boy's leg, reportedly partially severed in the explosion which sent 11 others into emotional shock, including the boys’ 15-year-old brother and their mother. Demonstrators in Sderot burned tires, called upon Ehud Olmert to resign and demanded an IDF operation in Gaza. They then proceeded to block Sderot junction, causing a traffic slowdown in the adjoining roads.

Public Security Minister Avi Dichter visited Sderot Saturday, before the brothers' injury, and said: "I found a battered town, 20 percent of whose residents have simply gotten up and left. The residents live in distress, because they say they do not see the end to the Kassams."

Living 'from miracle to miracle'
Dichter said after the visit that residents told him that they live "from miracle to miracle" and that there was a larger presence than usual in the town's synagogues.

IDF paratroopers.
IDF website.

"When I entered Sderot I saw barren streets, empty of people, and people holed up in their homes
Dichter: 'When I entered Sderot I saw barren streets, empty of people'
," he added. Dichter plans to tell the government what he saw in Sunday's cabinet session.

A senior Gaza terrorist named "Abu Mujahed" used Dichter's statements to score psychological warfare points. The terrorist said "we did not need Dichter's announcement, because this is not the first time the Israelis admit this and Sderot has been almost completely empty for several months. This proves that the rockets we fire are effective and that they cause a balance of terror and deterrence with the Zionist enemy.”

Sderot 'in critical condition'
Government spokesman David Baker said after Saturday night's Kassam attack that the government will not allow the current situation in Sderot to continue. “Israel will respond with determination to protect its citizens.” The Islamic Jihad’s Al-Aqsa Brigades terrorist gang took responsibility for the attack.

MK Effie Eitam (NRP-NU) placed responsibility for the injuries in the Kassam attack Saturday night on the government. “The fact that an entire city in Israel is in critical condition is testimony to the poor performance of the government and defense minister,” he said.
'The government is avoiding a large-scale assault on Gaza so it doesn't have to admit failure in the Disengagement'

"Only a stable policy of tightening the economic siege of Gaza and wide-scale attacks on all of Hamas' leadership will reduce the number of Kassams and make it possible to prepare a large scale assault on Gaza, in order to crush the terror infrastructures in Gaza and bring peace and security back into the lives of the residents of Sderot and the Gaza perimeter,” he added.

NRP chairman MK Zevulun Orlev called for a military operation in Gaza Saturday night. Orlev said: "The reality in Sderot proves that it is time to stop playing with the on/off switch and let the IDF fight the terror in Gaza as it is doing in Judea and Samaria. The government is avoiding a large-scale assault on Gaza so it doesn't have to admit failure in the Disengagement, but there is no choice but to mount Operation Defensive Shield II in Gaza."

'Ground op will be a blood bath'
MK Miki Eitan (Likud) said it was time to "change course and take the gloves off" as far as Gaza was concerned. He warned, however, against a ground operation.

"The Israeli government's ministers say there is a state of war with the Hamas government. But what kind of war is this, in which enemy military commanders receive immunity? Every time a "color red" siren goes off i
'Olmert and Barak's answers are not needed in Berlin and Ankara, but in Sderot'
n Sderot, electricity to Gaza should be cut off at that very second. Whenever a home is hit, the house of one of the Hamas leaders should be bombed."

"What we must not do," he added, "is to send our soldiers to a ground operation in Gaza, and play the game according to the rules which are convenient for the terrorists. The limitations which the High Court puts on IDF responses could lead us to respond by a ground assault. That kind of operation could lead to a bloodbath, in which many Israeli soldiers might get hurt, as well as many of the Palestinians which the court cares so much about."

'Cut off electricity'
MK Gidon Sa'ar (Likud) demanded that the Prime Minister and Defense Minister cancel their plans to go abroad this week and act immediately to stop the Kassam attacks. "Olmert and Barak's answers are not needed in Berlin and Ankara, but in Sderot, where the residents' security has gone with the wind," he said.

Minister for Religious Services Yitzchak Cohen (Shas) said that "as long as Sderot is burning, we must strangle Gaza's infrastructures, until all of the Kassam launchers lay down their weapons in broad daylight."

Cohen said there was no difference between the international reaction to a 1% cut of Gaza's electricity and a 100% cut. "It seems in Gaza they do not understand warnings, and only completely cutting off Gaza will bring results," he added.