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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Israel government at odds on how to protect Negev

Dichter wants to  "direct the IDF to bring the firing [of rockets] to a complete stop. Not to curb or reduce it but to stop it, whatever the cost for the Palestinians." He doesn't explain how that might be done, short of a massive takeover of Gaza or a cease fire with Hamas, nor does he recommend a course of action. Is he serious or grandstanding?
Ami Isseroff

Ministers clash over Gaza policy Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST Jan. 20, 2008
Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Public Security Minister Avi Dichter exchanged harsh words during the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday after Dichter accused the government of desensitization to the suffering of the residents of Sderot and the Gaza belt communities, who he said were living in a "Gazan roulette."
Dichter said the government was not doing enough to stop Kassam rocket attacks, demanding that it "direct the IDF to bring the firing [of rockets] to a complete stop. Not to curb or reduce it but to stop it, whatever the cost for the Palestinians."
Dichter also lashed out at the army's command, saying he would have expected the chief of the general staff to be at the meeting after such a difficult week. Pinpoint air force attacks were not enough, he added, and another sort of deterrence was needed.
Responding to Dichter's harsh words, Barak said such statements did nothing to strengthen the people of Sderot.
"I don't remember such anxious talk in the government like what I'm hearing here," Barak said. The government should be united during testing times despite differences of opinion, he said, adding that a government that looked like a press conference weakened itself and the people it governed.
"We will find a solution to the Kassam just as we found a solution to suicide bombers," Barak pledged. "We will continue our actions against the rocket launching cells, we've closed off the crossings for several days and we are continuing to prepare for a large-scale operation."
Five Kassam rockets were launched from the Strip on Sunday. Four landed in open fields near Sderot while the fifth landed on the Palestinian side of the Erez Crossing. No casualties or damage were reported in any of the attacks.
Since last Sunday, close to 165 Kassam rockets and 70 mortar shells were fired at the western Negev, and more than 30 terrorists were killed.

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