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      Hamas Shells Prompt Resolute Israeli Response

      Israel's attack on seven Gaza targets Monday night was the strongest in the past two years, IDF sources say, and was meant to send a clear message.
      By Hillel Fendel
      First Publish: 12/21/2010, 3:32 PM / Last Update: 12/21/2010, 3:38 PM

      Flash 90

      The Israel Air Force's attack on seven Gaza targets last night was the strongest in the past two years, ever since Israel's counterterrorist Cast Lead campaign. So say top IDF sources, adding that the objective was to "send a clear message to the terrorists of Hamas that the situation cannot continue as is."

      The Israeli response followed the firing from Gaza of at least a dozen mortar shells and rockets at Israel over the past two days, as well as other attacks in the past two weeks. Tuesday morning, following the IAF strike, Hamas terrorists fired a Kassam rocket at Israel, lightly wounding a 15-year-old girl and damaging several buildings.

      The Hamas terrorist organization has run Gaza ever since it overthrew Fatah in 2007, just two years after the Disengagement - Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza – that was supposed to have improved Israeli security.

      IDF: Hamas Unleashes Terror
      Military correspondent Kobi Finkler reports that the IDF evaluation is that Hamas has allowed the various terrorist organizations in the area, such as Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees and others to freely attack Israel in commemoration of the second anniversary of Cast Lead. Israel launched that offensive following the firing of thousands of rockets since 2005 at Israeli areas, such as Be'er Sheva and other areas in the Negev and the cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod.

      Security sources say that Hamas feels it has tremendous amounts of weapons and ammunition, such as Kassam rockets, light-weapons, and explosives, and that Israel is limited in how strongly it can respond when attacked.

      At the same time, IDF sources say, Hamas is not interested in a full-scale conflict with Israel at this time. Neither is Israel, for that matter – "but the picture could easily change," they say. "If, for instance, today's rocket had exploded inside a kindergarten, instead of nearby, and children would have been hurt, it is very likely that this afternoon would not have been peaceful as it is."

      The IAF strikes Monday night targeted, among others, new tunnels dug by terrorists for the purpose of dispatching terror squads into Israel, ostensibly for the purpose of attacking or kidnapping civilians or soldiers.

      IDF officials say that their latest offensive is not the end of the story, and they will not hesitate to act again if indicated.