Ashkelon Mayor: Condition Annapolis Attendance on Ending Kassams

The mayor of Ashkelon has joined calls for Israel's attendance at the Annapolis conference to be conditional upon the PA halting rocket attacks.

Hana Levi Julian ,

Khan Younis Arabs inspect car struck by IAF
Khan Younis Arabs inspect car struck by IAF
Flash 90

Ashkelon Mayor Roni Mahatzri called on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Monday to condition Israel's participation in the Annapolis summit next week on a halt to Kassam rocket attacks.

"The residents of the south cannot become hostages to the Annapolis conference," declared Mahatzri. "The Arab countries who are invited to the summit have to pressure Hamas in Gaza if they want this conference to stand a chance."

Khan Younis Arabs inspect Arab car hit Sunday by Israel Air Force
Photo: Flash 90

Palestinian Authority terrorists in Gaza attacked the port city Monday, home to strategic sites which include oil and gas lines, as well as a major electric power station.

The rocket explosion provided an early morning wake-up call for residents, slamming into an open area in the southern part of the city at approximately 6:40 a.m. according to security sources.

It was the second such attack in less than 24 hours. Gaza terrorists fired two rockets at the western Negev Sunday. One exploded in an area just south of Ashkelon. The other landed next to a moshav near the town of Netivot.

No casualties or damage were reported in any of the attacks.

Earlier Sunday, PA Arabs gathered around a car that went up in flames after being hit by a missile fired from an Israeli helicopter in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis. Local witnesses and medics said no one was injured.

Despite Defense Ministry declarations that Israel is making best efforts to halt the Kassam attacks, Arabs in Gaza have launched some 7,000 rockets and mortar shells in recent years against southern Israel killing 10 citizens and causing extensive damage.

Israeli Air Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Eliezer Shakedi said that Israel cannot defend its citizens without military operations that will take a toll on Arab civilian bystanders.

Speaking at a conference earlier this month at a college in Hod HaSharon, the Air Force commander said that when taking into account the type of combat Israeli is engaged in, there is no way to avoid hitting civilians.

"When children are in the area from which Kassams are being fired, we find ourselves in a dilemma, even though international law permits us to retaliate," he said.