Rocket, Mortar Shelling As Mofaz Meets Gaza 'Strongman'

Terrorists shelled Sderot and Gush Katif Saturday night at the same hour Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz talked with Gaza strongman Mohamed Dahlan on ceding more authority to the PA.

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, | updated: 23:13

One of three mortar shells that exploded in Netzer Hazani severely damaged a house. No was injured. Terrorists also shot an anti-tank missile Friday night in nearby Neve Dekalim, also causing damage but no injuries. Both towns are in Gush Katif in southern Gaza.

Terrorists also fired a Kassam rocket which exploded in an open field near Sderot in the western Negev.

Saturday night's discussions in Tel Aviv with Dahlan were the first time in more than a year Israeli officials have talked with Dahlan, often considered the most powerful politician in Gaza. The talks are based on the Israeli government strategy to "respond with quiet where there is quiet." Chief of Staff Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon ordered on Friday that troops halt all operations in Gaza. Commanders are prohibited from any offensive action without his approval. Israeli soldiers still are deployed on main roads leading to Jewish communities. Lt. Gen Ya'alon also said Israel will open all three major Gaza crossings this week, all of which have been the scene of terrorist attacks.

Both Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israeli media also reported that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will meet PA president Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) the second week of February. The PA wants Israel to announce a formal cease fire and release a large number of prisoners.

Israel has demanded but not received a ceasefire declaration from Hamas and other self-declared terrorist groups. The terrorists have insisted that Israel release prisoners and move soldiers out of Gaza before they will commit to a "cooling off" period.

After a week of occasional mortar shelling, Arab terrorists exploded five shells on Friday and another three Saturday night on Gush Katif communities. Israel already has allowed isolated shelling, and the weekend attacks were the first time that terrorists tested Israel with a massive attack since Abu Mazen's reduced the violence. Neither Israeli politicians nor defense officials commented on the shelling and rocket fire.

The government is in a flurry of diplomatic activity, with Sharon advisor Dov Weissglas scheduled to Washington this week to meet with the new Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

PA president Abu Mazen also has been busy drumming up more support from other Arab countries. He visited Egypt Friday and Saturday, and Egyptian intelligence officials participated in the discussions.