15:27 Nov 01, ’06 / 10 Cheshvan 5767
by Hillel Fendel and Yechiel Spira. Israel National News
The stepped-up military offensive is part of ongoing efforts to bring an end to daily Kassam rocket attacks from the Beit Hanoun area of northern Gaza towards the western Negev and Sderot areas. Army Radio (Galei Tzahal) reports it is Israel’s largest military operation in Gaza since the abduction of Corp. Gilad Shalit more than four months ago.
At least 30 Arabs have been wounded and six killed; Israeli sources report ten dead. Among the dead are terrorists of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others. The Hamas Authority government convened for an emergency situation, calling upon Israel to stop its “slaughter.”
An Israeli soldier was killed during the night when terrorists shot him as he entered a building. He received emergency treatment on the spot, but died soon after. IDF soldiers later shot and hit at least two members of the cell responsible for the fatal shooting. The soldier’s identity has not yet been released, but his immediate family has been notified.
Gazan terrorists fired four Kassam rockets at Sderot this afternoon (Wednesday), in two separet volleys. Two women were sent to the hospital with shrapnel wounds that were later termed “light,” and several people were treated for shock. One rocket caused damage to a factory in the city’s industrial zone.
The Security Cabinet met this morning to determine the extent of the operation. Though the army recommended a wide-ranging offensive, only local offensives were approved. Newly-appointed Minister of Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman reportedly told his colleagues that Israel should deal with the Kassam-launching cells the same way the Russians dealt with the Chechnyans. Asked to confirm afterwards if he had actually made this recommendation, Lieberman said only that the phenomenon of leaks from governmental meetings must be stopped.
Voice of Israel Radio reported that other ministers are known to agree that Israel must employ a stronger hand against the terrorists in Gaza.
In two separate offensive attacks during the night, the Israel Air Force struck terrorists in the northern Gaza area. In one case, terrorists were detected while placing a bomb.
Defense Minister Amir Peretz continues to emphasize that Israel has no plans to re-take Gaza – despite the call to do just that, or close to it, by leading military personalities.
Quoting “intelligence community sources,” Army Radio reports that the operation will compromise the efforts currently underway towards obtaining Shalit’s release, and will delay the formation of a coalition government in the PA between Hamas and Fatah.
Speaking to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert indicated the military will be acting to halt rocket attacks. He also emphasized that the army will not re-conquer Gaza.