yaakov katz and Jpost staff, THE JERUSALEM POST Nov. 21, 2006
The Sderot man who was critically wounded Tuesday morning after a Kassam
rocket struck the factory where he worked died of his wounds on Tuesday night.
The victim, Yaakov Yaakovov, was hospitalized for severe head trauma earlier
in the day at Beersheba's Soroka Hospital, where doctors worked to save his
life throughout the afternoon.
He was reported earlier in serious but stable condition following surgery for
severe head trauma; however, his condition worsened, and he eventually
succumbed to his wounds.
Yaakovov was the second Kassam fatality in less than a week; Sderot resident
Fatima Slutzker, 57, was killed by a Kassam last Wednesday.
"I was in the factory, I heard the Color Red [early warning system], and after
about 60 seconds, the entire building shook," a factory worker told Army
Firefighters extinguished the blaze that broke out at the factory, and
officials were no longer worried that the factory's ammonia tanks could
ignite. Several other rockets landed in and around Sderot. One hit a home,
causing moderate damage but wounding no one. Hamas and the Islamic Jihad
claimed responsibility for the attacks.
"Day after day, the mornings are getting harder," Alon Davidi, head of
security for Sderot residents, told Army Radio.
"We wake up wondering what's going to happen. It's wrecking the atmosphere
here, it's wrecking life in the city," Davidi said of the Kassam attacks.
Earlier Tuesday, as Kassams continued to pound Sderot and the western Negev,
Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh said that recapturing the Gaza Strip was
"not a preferred solution" to the ongoing rocket attacks.
Speaking to Channel 1, he emphasized that "the solution is more complex" than
dialogue alone, and that only a combination of military, economic, and other
considerations would bring about the weakening of terror groups in Gaza.
Sneh said that without diplomatic prospects, there was no chance of defeating
Hamas; however, he called the war on terror a "military issue" and said it was
in the defense minister's jurisdiction.
Regarding criticism leveled by a range of MKs at Defense Minister Amir Peretz
over his Sunday phone call to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas,
Sneh said simply that each government minister should do his or her own job
and let others do theirs.
He added, however, that no minister was authorized to hold diplomatic talks on
Earlier, Sneh announced that Israel would decide within weeks what anti-rocket
defense system to erect in the Israeli communities bordering the Gaza Strip.
Sneh said that the government was examining four different systems produced
both in Israel and abroad, but that their efficiency was as yet unproven.
Meanwhile, UN Human Rights Commissioner Louise Arbor, who was visiting Sderot
at the invitation of Mayor Eli Moyal, said that "[Israel] has a responsibility
to defend its citizens, but has to do so only by legal means.
"It has to do so in line with international law, including international
humanitarian law, but it has a primary responsibility to protect people who
are under its authorities," Arbor said.
According to reports earlier, Arbor's car had been surrounded by angry
residents who called for her to leave the city. However, this was
categorically denied on Tuesday afternoon by UN spokesman Christopher Gunness,
who told The Jerusalem Post that "any suggestion that [Arbor] was 'hounded'
out of town is untrue."
Since Monday, more than 25 Kassams have landed in the Negev - seven in Sderot,
and one which scored a direct hit on a home in a nearby kibbutz. No one was
injured in any of the attacks, but extensive damage was caused to the home.
IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz said Monday that Israel was not
"coming to terms" with Kassam rocket fire, but that he was not currently in
favor of launching a massive ground operation into the Gaza Strip to stop the
daily rocket attacks on towns in the western Negev.
"Israel is not surrendering to the Kassam rockets," Halutz told reporters as
he mingled with new recruits during their enlistment in the IDF at the Tel
Hashomer Induction Center on Monday. He said that it was easy to propose
large-scale operations in the Gaza Strip as a solution to the Kassam fire, but
that they would not necessarily eliminate the threat.
A range of alternatives would need to be exhausted before launching a major
incursion into Gaza to combat terrorist activity. Escalated force was "not the
first choice," Halutz added.
"It is very easy to make this proposal, but the world is not just built on
acts of strength," Halutz said. "There are other layers of legitimacy for an
operation, and we need to ask ourselves what will the consequences of such an
operation be and what will happen the day after the operation."
Noam Bedin and AP contributed to this report.
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