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Israel Threatens to Turn Off Gaza´s Electricity

With three Kassam attacks against Ashkelon in recent days from Gaza, Israel threatened to turn off Gaza's electricity for two hours - but then realized that the hospital there has no generators.

By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 12/21/2005, 6:01 PM / Last Update: 12/21/2005, 9:56 AM

Three rockets have landed this week in or very close to Ashkelon and its sensitive installations - the Rothenberg power plant, an oil pipeline from Eilat, among others. One of them came down yesterday on an IDF base just south of Ashkelon. In general, Palestinian terrorists have fired rockets regularly over the past two weeks from Gaza to other western Negev locations. The total number of Kassams since the withdrawal from Gaza now tops 150; see below.

Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz is guiding the Israeli military to find a rocket-stopping solution that does not involve sending ground forces into Gaza. Haaretz newspaper reports that Israel informed the Palestinian Authority earlier this week that it would cut off electricity to Gaza for two hours if Kassam rockets continue to be fired towards Ashkelon. The purpose would be to sway PA public opinion against the terrorist organizations and their rocket attacks at Israel. However, it was realized that patients hospitalized in Gaza would be at risk, since the hospital has no generators. The threat to cut off the electricity will therefore have to wait until the hospital is hooked up to generators.

Israel is also considering other non-military options. Minister Mofaz continues to try diplomacy, and is set to meet with Egypt's Intelligence Chief Gen. Omar Suleimon in Tel Aviv today. He will reportedly ask Suleimon to use his influence with Palestinian Authority leaders to have them crack down on the rocket-firing terrorists. Suleimon is to meet today with PA chief Abu Mazen as well.

Agriculture Minister Yisrael Katz, fresh off his last-place finish in the Likud primaries this week, said this morning that the IDF should bomb several areas in Gaza, "with the purpose of causing Arabs to run away to Sinai."

Yoav Limor, Channel One’s military correspondent, said today that a ground-forces entry into Gaza is not in the cards. "Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is not likely," Limor told Army Radio, "to endanger practically his sole accomplishment of his term - the disengagement from Gaza - while paying a heavy political, international and even economic price... Not to mention his bad experience with [Israel's entry into] Lebanon [in 1982 when Sharon was Defense Minister]..."

Limor said, "There is no real military solution to Kassam rockets. The only time there could have been was on Jan. 30, 2001, when the first mortar shell was fired from Gaza, landing on a house in Netzarim. Israel should have responded then, but now it's too late. Another date on which action could possibly have been taken was three months ago, on Sept 14, 2005, when the first post-disengagement shell was fired from Gaza."