Israel to launch "targeted attacks" in Gaza

An Israeli soldier uses his rifle as troops close a road in Nablus

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert opted on Wednesday for “targeted attacks” in Gaza after Hamas’s armed wing fired rockets into Israel and declared a ceasefire in the territory dead, political sources said. Palestinian militants launched rockets at Israel from Gaza in retaliation for Israel’s killing of nine Palestinians in recent raids in the occupied West Bank.

Ruling out a ground offensive, Olmert decided in talks with security chiefs to step up “targeted attacks” against Palestinian militants but refrain from going after senior militants or political leaders, the sources said. “Israel will not hesitate to take harsh measures against those who try to harm its sovereignty by firing rockets into our territory, attempting attacks on soldiers, and (by) other means,” Olmert’s office said in a statement after the security session. Israeli Army Command announced earlier on Wednesday he would propose to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert the launch of a wide-scale military operation in Gaza.

Israeli Radio said Defense Minister Amir Peretz supported such a move, while his deputy Ephraim Sneh was opposed to it.

Hamas’s Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades launched eight rockets at Israel from Gaza on Tuesday in retaliation for Israel’s killing of nine Palestinians in recent raids against militants in the occupied West Bank. Two of the rockets landed in southern Israel on its 59th Independence Day, the military said, causing minor damage but no casualties. It was the first such attack since Hamas and Israeli leaders agreed to a Gaza ceasefire last November. A state of fear spread among Palestinians in the Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza Strip, as Israeli occupation army opened its artillery and heavy machingun fire at the town on Tuesday.

Heavy machingun and a number of artillery shells were fired by Israeli army tanks stationed on the northern borders of Gaza Strip against the houses and properties in the town this evening, Palestinian sources said.The bombardment caused material damages to properties and fear of an imminent aggression was growing among the Palestinian population in the area, the sources said, reporting no injuries of civilians.

The Israeli military recently completed a training programme to ready ground forces for a land offensive against militants in the territory should the government give the green light, Israeli security sources said. But one political source said Olmert, his popularity flagging since last year’s inconclusive Lebanon war, was not interested in a massive assault at this time. An official inquiry into the 34-day conflict with Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the military’s preparedness for war in the north is due to release its interim findings next week. In Gaza, a Palestinian official said an Egyptian security team held separate meetings with Hamas and the Islamic Jihad group and stressed the need to restore calm to avoid giving Israel a pretext to mount a ground offensive. Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak affirmed on Wednesday that his country would continue pushing forward the Middle East peace process for security to prevail in the region.

On Tuesday, after the rocket strikes, Abu Abaida, a spokesman for the Qassam brigades, said: “There is no calm between us and the (Israeli) occupation. The occupation ended the calm.” The Hamas-led Palestinian government, however, said it was interested in maintaining the Gaza ceasefire. The truce does not cover the West Bank, where the Israeli military mounts frequent raids. “If the occupation (Israel) … stops all assassinations, violence, arrests and raids against our people, Hamas will consider an enduring calm in liaison with other factions, as a collective position,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose secular Fatah faction formed a governing coalition with Hamas last month, called the rocket strikes “an exceptional event that will not last”. Speaking at a news conference in Rome on Tuesday, Abbas urged Israel to show “self-control” and head off escalation.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert opted on Wednesday for “targeted attacks” in Gaza after Hamas’s armed wing fired rockets into Israel and declared a ceasefire in the territory dead, political sources said. Palestinian militants launched rockets at Israel from Gaza in retaliation for Israel’s killing of nine Palestinians in recent raids in the occupied West Bank.

Ruling out a ground offensive, Olmert decided in talks with security chiefs to step up “targeted attacks” against Palestinian militants but refrain from going after senior militants or political leaders, the sources said. “Israel will not hesitate to take harsh measures against those who try to harm its sovereignty by firing rockets into our territory, attempting attacks on soldiers, and (by) other means,” Olmert’s office said in a statement after the security session. Israeli Army Command announced earlier on Wednesday he would propose to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert the launch of a wide-scale military operation in Gaza.

Israeli Radio said Defense Minister Amir Peretz supported such a move, while his deputy Ephraim Sneh was opposed to it.Hamas’s Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades launched eight rockets at Israel from Gaza on Tuesday in retaliation for Israel’s killing of nine Palestinians in recent raids against militants in the occupied West Bank. Two of the rockets landed in southern Israel on its 59th Independence Day, the military said, causing minor damage but no casualties. It was the first such attack since Hamas and Israeli leaders agreed to a Gaza ceasefire last November. A state of fear spread among Palestinians in the Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza Strip, as Israeli occupation army opened its artillery and heavy machingun fire at the town on Tuesday.

Heavy machingun and a number of artillery shells were fired by Israeli army tanks stationed on the northern borders of Gaza Strip against the houses and properties in the town this evening, Palestinian sources said.

The bombardment caused material damages to properties and fear of an imminent aggression was growing among the Palestinian population in the area, the sources said, reporting no injuries of civilians.

The Israeli military recently completed a training programme to ready ground forces for a land offensive against militants in the territory should the government give the green light, Israeli security sources said. But one political source said Olmert, his popularity flagging since last year’s inconclusive Lebanon war, was not interested in a massive assault at this time. An official inquiry into the 34-day conflict with Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the military’s preparedness for war in the north is due to release its interim findings next week. In Gaza, a Palestinian official said an Egyptian security team held separate meetings with Hamas and the Islamic Jihad group and stressed the need to restore calm to avoid giving Israel a pretext to mount a ground offensive. Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak affirmed on Wednesday that his country would continue pushing forward the Middle East peace process for security to prevail in the region.

On Tuesday, after the rocket strikes, Abu Abaida, a spokesman for the Qassam brigades, said: “There is no calm between us and the (Israeli) occupation. The occupation ended the calm.” The Hamas-led Palestinian government, however, said it was interested in maintaining the Gaza ceasefire. The truce does not cover the West Bank, where the Israeli military mounts frequent raids. “If the occupation (Israel) … stops all assassinations, violence, arrests and raids against our people, Hamas will consider an enduring calm in liaison with other factions, as a collective position,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose secular Fatah faction formed a governing coalition with Hamas last month, called the rocket strikes “an exceptional event that will not last”. Speaking at a news conference in Rome on Tuesday, Abbas urged Israel to show “self-control” and head off escalation.

Source: ARAB ONLINE

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