IDF Launches Air Strikes in Gaza
The IDF has increased air strikes and created a buffer zone in Gaza to stem the increasing wave of Kassam rocket attacks on Israeli towns since the Disengagement.
By Ezra HaLevi
First Publish: 12/27/2005, 1:15 PM / Last Update: 12/27/2005, 10:06 AM
Tuesday morning, Israel's Air Force fired two missiles at targets in northern Gaza. The missiles struck structures used by the Al-Aqsa Brigades terror group, which is affiliated with PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah Party. "One structure, in Beit Lahiya, was used as a recruitment center," the IDF spokesperson announced, and the other, in Gaza City, was used as a "center of activity."
During the night, the IDF also fired missiles at a bridge near the town of Beit Hanoun, from which rockets are fired on the western Negev. Six additional access routes to launching sites in northern Gaza were targeted as well.
According to PA reports, the power supply to northern Gaza was cut during the strikes.
The retaliation comes after a Kassam rocket nearly hit a kindergarten in Kibbutz Sa'ad Monday and another rocket fell near the city of Ashkelon.
According to Yediot Aharonot, Air Force planes are preparing to drop leaflets on Gaza informing residents to stay in their homes to avoid injury as Israel targets anyone involved in firing rockets at Israeli towns.
The report also quotes security sources saying that the IDF will not embark on a ground operation in Gaza, but that a three-mile security buffer has been delineated, within which strikes will be carried out on a more regular basis against those involved in firing rockets. Israel may also ask members of the PA police to evacuate the area as their presence has not been effective in preventing rocket fire.
The Al-Aqsa Brigade terror group claims to have Russian-made Grad missiles, which have a 25 kilometer (15 mile) range. The terror group is warning that if the IDF attempts to establish a buffer zone in northern Gaza, it will not sit idly by, but will opt to launch the missiles against Israeli targets. “The occupation government will be the big loser,” a statement from the group said.
Meanwhile, the Home Front Command has been instructed to speed up the process of providing reinforcement for the homes of residents living within striking range of Gaza. As the range of the rockets fired increased however – the southern Ashkelon industrial zone was struck last week – IDF sources admit it is becoming increasingly less practical to rely on defensive measures.