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Defense Minister Peretz: 'There Will Be Total Halt To Palestinian Rocketing From Gaza, One Way Or The Other!'

Sderot Mayor Moyal: 'Defense Minister Peretz And Whole Government Should Resign After Failing To Protect Our Town'

IDF Officer: 'Hamas Facing Dilemma Between Its Jihad Identity & Risking Its Regime'

Caught in the act

Defense Minister Amir Peretz and several senior IDF officers have briefed the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on the Palestinian rocketing from the Gaza Strip. Peretz made clear in no uncertain terms that there must be a total halt to the launching of Qassams or else he will order the IDF to step up its counter-terror strikes. Peretz is facing mounting pressure and Mayor Eli Moyal from his hometown of Sderot has called on him to resign.

:: IsraCast Audio ::

If there is not a total halt to the Palestinian rocketing from the Gaza Strip, I will order the IDF to step up its counter-terror operations'. That's the reaction of Defense Minister Amir Peretz to the continuing rocketing of his hometown of Sderot.

Defense Minister Peretz is under fire from his neighbors in Sderot that has born the brunt of the Palestinian rocketing for years. The town's mayor Eli Moyal has now called for Peretz and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to resign. Moyal says that a government that cannot prevent a town from being repeatedly attacked should quit. But Peretz declared that he would bring a total halt to the Palestinian rocketing one way or the other. In his view, his approach is paying off. After the Palestinians launched scores of Qassam rockets at Sderot and other Israeli targets, Peretz sent a warning to Hamas leaders they would be targeted by the IDF if they did not stop the rocketing. He revealed that since Wednesday, Hamas has halted its attacks. He went on to stress there must be a total halt and this was not linked to the number of Israeli casualties. In light of the Hamas cessation, Israeli security forces are focusing on the other terror groups such as Islamic Jihad that are still launching Qassams from time to time. A senior IDF intelligence officer said that for the first time Hamas was having to confront the dilemma of its Jihad' war identity that could risk its control of the Palestinian regime'. Would the Defense Minister consider sending the IDF back into the Gaza Strip in a major ground operation? Peretz would not rule anything out. However, he gave the impression that the IDF's current pinpoint operations were paying off.

In committee, there was wall-to-wall agreement that Israel could not put up with the indiscriminate rocketing of its civilians from the Gaza Strip. Labor MK Matan Vilnayie, a retired IDF general, said it was intolerable that Palestinian chairman Mahmoud Abbas could sleep quietly in his bed at night while Israel's Defense who goes home every night could not. He, as did other MKs, demanded that the Palestinian authorities must be held accountable. Some said Israel holds the Lebanese government responsible for Hizballah attacks in the north and this should also apply to the Hamas government and the Qassams. Peretz replied there was a big difference between the two.

A senior IDF operations officer pointed to an increase in terror activity since the start of May. One Israeli was killed and another 31 injured, many suffered from trauma. The IDF has been keeping up the pressure and has knocked out many squads of Qassam launchers. Fifty-one Palestinians were killed, eight of them non-combatants who died when the IAF hit a van carrying a more lethal Grad missile on its way to being launched at Israel. Since February, the Israeli security forces have foiled forty-three terror attacks many from northern Samaria.

The war on terror as well as cuts in the defense budget are having a detrimental effect on the training and deployment of IDF combat units. After a tour of northern command yesterday, MK Effy Eitam, a retired Brigadier-General warned that the Syrians could exploit this situation for a local attack on the Golan Heights.
David Essing

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