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Israel To Strike Back

In response to Monday's deadly bombing at Netanya's HaSharon Mall, Israel's security establishment held two high-level meetings and decided on a prolonged counter-terror operation.
By Ezra HaLevi
First Publish: 12/6/2005, 12:12 PM / Last Update: 12/5/2005, 6:48 PM

In preparation for the operation, the IDF will deploy troops in northern Samaria. The security establishment will also renew targeted killings of terror leaders. A general closure has been placed on Arabs in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, effective Tuesday night.

The IDF will also impose a curfew, effective Tuesday night, on Judea, Samaria and Gaza, banning Arabs from entering Israel's pre-1967 borders. The closure is far from complete, however, as the three Gaza crossings will remain fully operational - most probably due to commitments made to the US by Israel. Permits for 500 Christian worshippers to enter Jerusalem during the Christian holidays also remain valid.

In addition, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, after consulting with IDF and intelligence officials, said he would ask Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to allow the IDF to resume destroying the homes of suicide-bombers.

Five Jews were murdered and dozens wounded in Monday's attack when an Arab terrorist blew himself up just outside the entrance of the shopping mall at noon.

The Islamic Jihad terrorist organization took responsibility for the Netanya bombing. The same gang carried out a similar attack in the exact same place last July, in which 4 civilians were murdered and some 90 injured.

If the IDF is given authorization to destroy terrorists' homes, the first house would be that of Jenin-area resident Lutfi Amin Abu Salem, the terrorist who appears in the Islamic Jihad video released following Monday’s attack. His father and three brothers are among 14 wanted Islamic Jihad members arrested overnight.

The IDF used to routinely raze the homes of terrorists, a policy that caused some family members to turn in relatives planning attacks, but the army announced that it would stop doing so last February. The policy was originally enacted following the bombing at Hebrew University in 2002, in which seven were killed and seventy injured.

On Sunday, Mofaz approved the targeted killing of terrorists organizing the firing of Kassam rockets against Israeli towns. That decision followed attacks the same day, leading critics to suggest that Mofaz is talking tough in order to improve his position ahead of the December 19th Likud primaries.

Monday night, residents of Netanya gathered at the site of the attack to mourn and protest the security situation and what they perceive to be Prime Minister Sharon's rewarding of Arab terrorism. They expressed fury at the fact that the shopping center was targeted twice in recent months.

Baruch Gordon contributed to this article.