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svgadminsvgOctober 29, 2011svgNews

Rocket Attacks Could Hold Up Release of 550 More Deal Terrorists

Israeli political officials have been taken aback by the rocket attacks from Gaza over the past few days, considering that the deal with Hamas for the release of Gilad Shalit has not been completed. Israel is supposed to release another 550 terrorists in the coming weeks, but some MKs have begun calling for that part of the Shalit deal to be cancelled if Hamas continues to allow rocket attacks on Israel.

Attacks began last Wednesday, when a Grad Katyusha rocket was fired at Ashdod, setting off Red Color warning sirens throughout southern Israel, as far north as Rishon Lezion. The attacks intensified Saturday, when at least 20 Grad missiles, Kassam rockets, and mortar shells were fired at Israel. One rocket hit the courtyard of a school building in Ashdod, damaging several classrooms. Another rocket hit outside an apartment building in the city. At least three people were injured and were being treated at hospitals in southern Israel; about a dozen others were treated for shock. Ashdod Mayor Yechiel Lassry said that schools would be closed Sunday.

Both Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Brigades took responsibility for Saturday’s attacks. The terror groups said that the attacks were “just the beginning” of renewed attacks against Israel.

Earlier Saturday,  IDF forces attacked a terrorist gang in the southern Gaza Strip that was preparing to launch long-range rockets at Israeli targets. The gang was also responsible for the firing of a Grad rocket towards southern Israel this past Wednesday. Five terrorists were reported killed in the attack. 

In a statement Saturday night, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman demanded that Hamas put a stop to the rocket attacks – or else. “We do not seek a confrontation with the Palestinians and we do not wish to increase tensions. But we will not allow these attacks to continue without a response. I very much hope that – with the help of neighboring countries and the international community – that these attacks will end tonight. Otherwise there will be serious consequences in the coming days,” the statement said.

Media analysts said that Lieberman may not have been referring to an IDF military action – at least for now – but to the possibility that Israel could significantly delay or even cancel the release of an additional 550 terrorists that is supposed to take place to close the deal to release Shalit. “No one at this time wants, or is ready, for an extended military action in Gaza,” said Channel One analysts Yoav Limor. “But it is clear that something must be done. Obviously the IDF will respond to these specific attacks, but a major offensive is not in the cards.” On the other hand, he said, Israel could – and maybe was even likely – to indefinitely postpone the release of the rest of the terrorists until Hamas reins in the terror groups that are conducting the attacks.

MKs called for action against the attacks. MK Zvulun Orlev (Bayit Yehudi) called for the IDF to “clean up” Gaza of terrorists. “We are paying the price for not causing the fall of the Hamas regime during Operation Cast Lead,” he said. “We must complete the task at the earliest possible opportunity.” MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) said that the terrorists had learned that Israel was hesitant to act against terror, and that the only way to restore the fear and respect of Israel was to correct its mistake of letting terrorists out scot-free. “The only thing that will help now is the elimination of the head terrorists in Gaza, starting with the ones who held Gilad Shalit and negotiated for the release of terrorists. MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) added that Hamas had “gotten the message from the Shalit deal. Retaking Gaza and destroying Hamas is the only way to restore security to Israel.”

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