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Hamas Rocketing V.S Peres Peace Offer

Hamas: 'We Have Launched Five Grad Rockets At Israeli Town Of Ashqelon & More Qassams At Sderot' - Number Of Israeli Civilians Injured

IDF Goes On Heightened Alert As Sderot's Mayor - Elect David Bouskila Calls On Defense Minister Ehud Barak To Unleash IDF Against Hamas

At UN, President Shimon Peres: 'Israel Accepts Saudi Initiative For Peace & Security In Middle East'

Hamas Terrorists in Gaza Strip

At the UN, Israel's President Shimon told the King of Saudi Arabia Abdullah Al Aziz that Israel accepted his initiative for peace and security between the Arab world and Israel. Peres agreed with the Saudi leader that " there is no military solution to the Arab - Israeli conflict ". However, Palestinians in the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip apparently they have their own solution - they escalated their rocketing of Israel, injuring some civilians and terrifying thousands more in the western Negev area.

Hamas assumes responsibility for rocket escalation

President Shimon Peres (Photo: Amit Shabi)

At the UN in New York, Israel's President Shimon Peres praised the Saudi initiative that calls for peace with Israel and an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict. With the King of Saudi Arabia in the audience, President Peres declared: "We agree there is no military solution to the dispute that has caused so much death and destruction". However, although the trend in most of the Arab world now supports the two-state solution, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, who elected the Hamas extremists, are still bent on a different approach. While Peres talking peace in New York, Hamas was escalating its attacks on Israel jeopardizing the six month 'tahadiya'  cease-fire that will expire on December 18th. It began, when Israeli security forces uncovered a tunnel being burrowed under the security fence, obviously with the intention of carrying out another raid against IDF forces inside Israel. Such an operation resulted in the killing of three IDF soldiers and abducting of Corp. Gilad Shalit over two years ago. 

Clear and present danger

There have been dozens of sporadic rockets fired into Israel since the cease-fire began but Israel chose not to respond. But this time, faced with a clear and present danger the IDF intercepted the terrorists killing them of them. Hamas responded with the launching of rockets into Israel that peaked on Friday - Hamas declared that it fired five longer range Grad rockets at the town of Ashqelon and another fifteen Qassams at Sderot and other civilian centers. The 'Color Red' air raid sirens have been wailing inside Israeli towns and villages along the Gaza border driving thousands of Israeli children, women and men into bomb shelters. One eighty-year old woman was hit by shrapnel and seriously wounded - a number of others were treated for trauma. An Israeli helicopter knocked out of the rocket squads from the air. 

Public demands for severe Israeli response

While his fellow citizens were still huddled in bomb shelters, Sderot's newly elected mayor David Bouskila, called on Defense Minister Ehud Barak to take off the gloves and launch a massive operation against Gaza. Several cabinet ministers have also demanded a stiff Israeli response. Barak has temporarily closed the Israeli terminals through which goods and fuel flow into Gaza. The more dangerous Grads have been launched from Gaza before - Hamas would 'sub-contract' them to other terror groups to evade Israeli retaliation but for the first time, Hamas has publicly assumed responsibility. The Grads, of Russian manufacture have a longer range of some 20 kilometers, are more accurate and carry a bigger payload than the home-made Qassams.   

The latest Hamas provocations come at the outset of the current Israeli election when the question of what to do about the terrorist threat from Gaza will be a key issue. Therefore, it goes without saying that the current violence may lend more fuel to the flames of this public debate. Defense Minister Ehud Barak will face even greater criticism over his support for the cease-fire, which intelligence officials had warned against. Indeed, it has enabled Hamas to smuggle in large quantities of arms and reinforced its strength its strength in Gaza. In an obvious reference to Barak, Cabinet Minister Haim Ramon of Kadima has charged: "It was apparent from the outset that Hamas would violate the cease-fire in every way and there is still only one person who is not ready to admit it!" A Hamas official has called on Egypt to use its influence with Israel to cool down the explosive situation now, apparently indicating that Hamas does not want it to boil over, at least not for the present.   

David Essing

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