The often-violated six-month ceasefire between Israel and Hamas-ruled Gaza officially came to an end last Friday, and Gaza-based Palestinian terrorists promptly resumed their full-scale bombardment of Israeli towns.
The southern Israel towns of Sderot and Ashkelon, and a number of smaller communities in between, were pounded by at least a dozen rockets and mortar shells on Sunday morning.
A foreign worker was wounded by one of the rockets, while another partially destroyed a family home in Sderot. The family managed to flee the home just before the rocket struck.
Nearly 40 rockets and mortar shells were fired at towns and communities in southern Israel on Saturday. One mortar scored a direct hit on youth clubhouse, causing damage but no injuries.
Israeli aircraft attacked some of the rocket cells, killing at least one terrorist.
At least five rockets were fired at Israel on Friday, and Palestinian gunmen operating near the Gaza security fence opened fire on Israeli farmers.
A Hamas spokesman told Ha'aretz that the group is also considering a resumption of suicide bomb attacks against Israeli civilians.
How to deal with the resurgent threat was the focus of Sunday's cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, where Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak came under heavy fire from other ministers for failing to authorize strong military action.
Deputy Prime Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) was quoted by The Jerusalem Post as telling Olmert and Barak that if it were Tel Aviv being pounded by so many rockets on a daily basis, there would have been no hesitation to invade Gaza.
Prior to the cabinet meeting, Vice Premier Haim Ramon (Kadima) told Israel Radio that Israel doesn't even need to send in ground forces in order to bring about an end to Hamas' rule in Gaza.
Israel has the military, economic and political means to crush Hamas with minimal risk to its soldiers, Ramon noted, before blasting Barak for his failed policy of restraint.
Nevertheless, Olmert and Barak insisted that they would continue to take a slow and measured approach to the crisis, while seeking to avoid a large-scale armed clash with the terrorists.
Residents of southern Israel and observers around the country fear that the government will continue to avoid taking decisive action until the terrorists actually manage to kill large numbers of Israelis with their rockets.
In other violence, Israel National News reported that Arab stone throwers on Saturday attacked Jewish motorists traveling on a major highway connecting Tel Aviv to the Samarian town of Ariel. Four vehicles were damaged in the attacks, but no injuries were reported.
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