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Rocket Hits Eshkol; Barak says Ceasefire on the Way

Rocket hits Eshkol region, none hurt. Despite ongoing attacks, Barak believes ceasefire is on the way.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 2/26/2009, 9:15 PM

Gaza terrorists fired on southern Israel on Thursday night, launching one rocket at the Eshkol region. The rocket hit an open field, and no injuries were reported. The IAF demolished two smuggling tunnels in response.

Earlier in the day Gaza terrorists fired two rockets, hitting the city of Sderot and causing trauma and property damage. The IDF responded by demolishing several smuggling tunnels along the Egyptian border.

Gaza terrorists have fired 90 rockets on southern Israel since Operation Cast Lead ended last month.

Despite the attacks, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday evening that a ceasefire is on the way. “I don't love the trickle of Kassam [rockets], but I have no doubt that we're on our way to a ceasefire,” Barak said at a Labor party conference.

Egypt is central to Israel's plans for a truce in Gaza, Barak added. “Since the crisis with Amos Gilad has been resolved, we can work towards completing the agreements,” he said, referring to the dismissal and subsequent rehiring of Israel's negotiator in Egypt Amos Gilad. Gilad was fired recently after criticizing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's policies in a newspaper interview.

Barak also discussed kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, who was seized by terrorists during an attack outside Gaza in 2006. The Cast Lead operation made it temporarily easier to free Shalit, Barak said.

He warned that the price for Shalit would be “heavy and painful.” Hamas has demanded that Israel free more than 1,000 terrorists, including many convicted on multiple counts of murder, in order to obtain Shalit's return.

Barak mentioned other defense-related issues as well, including the Iranian nuclear program and recent rocket attacks from Lebanon. Barak called for increased international sanctions on Iran, but approved of the United States administration's willingness to hold dialogue.

Barak said Hizbullah's position in the Lebanese government makes Lebanon responsible for the group's actions. Syria “continues to be a negative influence on the Lebanese front,” he added.