Security cabinet decides to step up response to Qassam fire
By Aluf Benn, Haaretz Correspondent
The security cabinet, debating ways to counter Qassam fire on southern Israel, decided Wednesday to intensify Israel's response to rocket attacks emanating from the Gaza Strip.
The ministers approved a series of measures, including attacks on Hamas institutions, and called for the IDF to aim for a "significant halt" to the Qassam rocket fire, to increase "pinpoint preventions" - a euphemism for targeted killings - and to prepare for a ground operation in Gaza, evacuated by Israel last year.
The IDF will in coming days present detailed objectives to a committee of deputy prime ministers, which has the power to authorize military operations.
The cabinet also instructed the army to prepare a plan for an extensive operation to counter the increased Palestinian military might in Gaza. The plan will soon after be presented for cabinet approval.
During the meeting, the ministers engaged in a heated debate about the reintroduction of targeted killings as a means of deterring rocket fire, although the issue was not put to the vote.
The debate touched on the difference between targeting terrorists about to carry out an attack or fire rockets and killing people who were previously involved in terrorism, but who now held political positions.
Public Security Minister Avi Dichter also expressed doubt over the efficacy of actions against Hamas institutions.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert concluded the meeting by saying that the military action needs to have clear objectives, as "pinpoint prevention is not an aim in itself, rather it is intended as a means to an end."
At the start of the debate, Olmert said that the aim of the new military measures was "to stop the Qassam fire," and pointed out that Dichter had proposed just that at the last meeting of the full cabinet.
The prime minister later added that the IDF and the Shin Bet security service had ruled out a complete end to the rocket fire as a viable option. Olmert then decided to aim for a "significant halt" to the Qassams so as not to present an unachievable objective.
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