Sderot Mayor & Minister Sheetrit: Wipe Out Gaza Neighborhoods

Both Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal and Minister Meir Sheetrit say it's time to bomb Gaza neighborhoods, in response to the ongoing Kassam attacks.

Hillel Fendel ,

Kassam rocket fire
Kassam rocket fire

Both Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal and Minister Meir Sheetrit, among others, say it's time to bomb Gaza neighborhoods, in response to the ongoing Kassam attacks.

Speaking with Army Radio on Sunday morning, Moyal said, "Defense Minister Ehud Barak arrived here this morning, I showed him the spot where the Kassam hit last night [from which a boy lost his leg and his brother is fighting for his life -ed.], and I told him, as I always do, that I'm not going to tell him what specific operations to take, or that there has to be a full-scale invasion of Gaza; but just that the residents do not believe that enough is being done to keep them safe. "

"That is why," Moyal explained, "we will continue to protest.  We are not going to burn tires or anything like that, but we simply want to give the message that we want to be able to remain in our homes, in light of this totally illogical situation in which we are constantly bombarded with rockets." 

Dozens of Sderot residents set out for Jerusalem this morning, where they plant to protest outside the government offices.  On their way, they were joined by hundreds of Jerusalem residents, and together they are blocking traffic into the city at the Sakharov Gardens entrance.

Nothing to Talk About With Enemy
Asked if the time has not come to talk with Hamas in order to possibly bring about a stop to the Kassams, Moyal responded sharply: "You are insulting me, the morning after a near-fatal Kassam attack.  How can you talk with someone who doesn't want to talk with you?"

Army Radio interviewer Razi Barkai said, "We can possibly talk with them about a tahadiye, a short-term ceasefire... or, in addition, they claim that we are besieging them by closing off the crossings into Gaza."

Moyal answered, "To talk about a ceasefire is an insult to my intelligence; if they want to stop shooting, let them stop!.  We don't fire at them because we feel like it; we shoot only because we are shot at...  Regarding the siege, we owe Gaza absolutely nothing by any political standard.  We left Gaza, we took those nice people whom you call settlers out of their homes and brought them here [to pre-1967 Israel - ed.], and now we need have nothing to do with Gaza; Israel owes something only to the residents of Sderot."

Moyal's Plan
"What would you do if you were the Defense Minister?" Moyal was asked, and he responded emphatically, "I would kidnap [Hamas leader Ismail] Haniye, I would kidnap or kill the other leaders, I would bomb neighborhoods, etc."

Barkai: "And if you do all that and the next day are bombed with another 100 Kassams, what then?"

Moyal: "We did it in Lebanon in 2006; we wiped out a whole neighborhood, the Dachya, including tall buildings, sometimes with people in it, and - what can you do? It worked! We have had nearly two years of quiet from Lebanon since then."

Consenting Opinions
Minister Chaim Ramon, formerly of Labor and now of Kadima, similarly said that there is nothing to talk about with Hamas, but neither should we invade Gaza: "That would embroil us in a quagmire that would cost many IDF casualties."  Instead, he said, electricity should be cut off to Gaza in direct proportion to Kassam attacks, and that anyone involved in Kassam rocket attacks should be targeted.

Before this morning's Cabinet session, several ministers implied that their own government is not taking strong enough action to stop the Kassams, and that Hamas chief Haniye is a legitimate target. Jerusalem Affairs Minister Yaakov Edry of Kadima said, "This government cannot last for long if the Sderot problem is not solved."  His party colleague Minister Ruhama Avraham said, "The situation in Gaz-- in Sderot is very difficult, and we must definitely take a stronger approach."  [Avraham was a strong supporter of the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 - ed.]

Sheetrit: Wipe Out a Neighborhood
Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit (Kadima) was explicit about what should be done: "The heads of Hamas must pay the price. Hamas doesn't understand any other language; the problem is we are talking to them in English instead of in Arabic.  They only understand [the language of force]. The situation at present doesn't make sense; every other country faced with rockets on its citizens would go in and destroy the area.  We should warn the [Arabs in Gaza] in advance, give them a day's notice, and then wipe out a neighborhood. We should also hit their leaders, regardless of who or what they are."

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is maintaining a calm approach, however.  He said, "We all share this sorrow and anger at what happened in Sderot - but it must be clear that anger is not an operative plan." He said that Israel would continue to fight the terrorists and those who dispatch them.

Israel Air Force craft attacked four Hamas targets following the latest Kassams.