Before the meeting, IDF helicopter attacks killed four terrorists after the Negev town of Sderot was shell-shocked by Saturday's massive rocket barrage. Sderot officials announced schools would be shut down on Sunday and demanded the government retaliate forcefully.
MK Yuval Shteinitz (Likud), chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, criticized the government for what he said was a weak response.
The government ruled out a ground assault on Gaza. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told the security Cabinet, "We left Gaza not in order to return to it." The Cabinet approved IDF strikes on terrorists preparing rocket attacks and okayed a world-wide information campaign against Hamas.
Arab terrorists fired several more rockets following the Cabinet meeting, and all of them landed in open fields near Sderot. American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) and pleaded with him to stop the rocket attacks. Abbas responded with a request from Rice that she prevent Israel from attacking the Gaza region.
The IDF fired 3 missiles at a target in Gaza shortly after midnight. Two fell in an open field and the third struck the courtyard of a house in Khan Yunis, near the demolished Gush Katif communities. The house belonged to senior Hamas terrorist Maher al-Fara, who was not injured, and was used as a weapons factory, the IDF announced. Two people were wounded.
Arab sources claimed that more than 20 people, at least half of them children, were wounded in another missile strike on Hamas offices located inside a school run by the terrorist organization. The offices were used to transfer money to families of suicide terrorists, an IDF spokesman said.
Israel's Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz stated, "The response needs to be crushing," and foreign media used that phrase to describe Israel's three missile strikes Saturday which killed four terrorists in Gaza City and northern Gaza. The Associated Press reported, "Israel launched a 'crushing' retaliation."
Government ministers said Israel is depending on large-scale arrests and pressure on the Arab population to convince the Palestinian Authority (PA) to stop terrorist attacks. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz Minister promised that the IDF would take all measures necessary to stop attacks on Israel. He told the Cabinet that Israel must make it clear to the PA that it will not tolerate the attacks.
The British government said that Israel has the right to defend itself following its surrender of the Gaza region to the Palestinian Authority (PA), but also called on Israel to use restraint.
The Hamas military wing announced its forces are on emergency alert. Hamas has amassed an armed force of more than 20,000 terrorists, according to the weekly Makor Rishon newspaper. It has effectively challenged the PA as the authority over Gaza residents.
Hamas said it launched the rocket attacks after blaming Israel for killing 19 people in a Hamas parade Friday night, but it later admitted privately that one of it rocket-laden vehicles exploded and caused the deaths.