In light of the nearly fatal Kassam attack Tuesday evening on Sderot, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, along with Defense Minister Amir Peretz, has ordered the IDF to take pinpointed actions against Kassam launches, while still keeping the ceasefire with the Palestinian Authority intact.
The decision came in light of intensifying Kassam attacks against Ashkelon, Sderot, and the western Negev, including the nearly fatal attack on Sderot Tuesday where one teenager was critically wounded and another was moderately wounded. After an intense fight for the boy’s life, doctors at Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon were able to stabilize his condition.
The al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad, took responsibility for the attack and said it was in response to the continuing ceasefire violations conducted by Israel in the West Bank.
After a late night emergency discussion with political and defense officials, PM Olmert ordered the IDF to act against Kassam cells, but emphasized that Israel maintain the ceasefire and still demand the Palestinian Authority act against Kassam launches.
A statement released by the government after the meeting said that “over the past few days there has been an increase in the firing of Kassam rockets by terrorist groups from the Gaza Strip against population centers in Israel. This, despite the fact that Israel had agreed to a cease-fire, and over the past month has refrained from responding to the cease-fire violations. Under these circumstances, a directive was given to the security forces to take pinpointed action against the launching cells. Simultaneously, Israel will continue to preserve the cease-fire and will act vis-a-vis the Palestinian Authority in order for them to take immediate action to stop the shooting of Kassams.”
This decision to act against the launchers comes after a period of immense pressure on the prime minister from all directions to act against the attacks, including pressure from senior defense officials such as the defense minister, IDF chief of staff, and head of the Shin Bet.