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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Avi Dichter: Israel policy not stopping Gaza Rockets

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/02/avi-dichter-israel-policy-not-stopping.html

Read between the lines:
 
On a tour of the Qassam-battered town of Sderot on Thursday, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter rejected calls to reoccupy the Gaza Strip and urged the government to reconsider its policy against the intensifying rocket attacks.
 
"Whoever talks about entering and occupying the Gaza Strip, these are populist ideas which I don't connect to, and in my opinion, no intelligent person does either," he told reporters during a press conference at Sapir College, where an Israeli civilian was killed by Qassam fire the day before.
 
He called on the government to come up with an alternative policy for fighting the rockets, saying: "I recognize everything the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet are doing, but right now they are operating according to an existing policy."
OK, Avi Dichter, tell us what to do instead. If you think we should negotiate with Hamas, then explain what will be achieved. If you have a different plan, tell us what that is. Everyone knows the current policy is not working, and nobody is enthusiastic about invading Gaza. But nobody has a good alternative either.
 
Ami Isseroff
 
 
Dichter: Current government policy will not stop Qassam fire
By Amos Harel and Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondents and Reuters
On a tour of the Qassam-battered town of Sderot on Thursday, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter rejected calls to reoccupy the Gaza Strip and urged the government to reconsider its policy against the intensifying rocket attacks.
 
"Whoever talks about entering and occupying the Gaza Strip, these are populist ideas which I don't connect to, and in my opinion, no intelligent person does either," he told reporters during a press conference at Sapir College, where an Israeli civilian was killed by Qassam fire the day before.
 
He called on the government to come up with an alternative policy for fighting the rockets, saying: "I recognize everything the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet are doing, but right now they are operating according to an existing policy."
 
"This is not what is going to stop the Qassam fire and this must be brought to the cabinet for discussion," he added.
 
Just before Dichter's address, a Qassam exploded on the college campus, lightly wounding one of his guards. Dichter was not present at the site at the time of the attack.
 
Immigration Absorption Minister Jacob Edrey, who accompanied Dichter on his Sderot tour, took a harsher line, saying: "The government will need to contend and make difficult decisions. We are not far from the day in which we will have to go in and reoccupy all of Gaza."
 
At the end of the press conference, the Red Color alert sounded, and the meeting was concluded in a protected shelter.
 
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Wednesday that Israel is at war with Palestinian militants and vowed the Israel Defense Forces would continue to fight them until security returns to citizens of southern Israel.
 
The prime minister's comments were made after Israeli civilian was killed when a Qassam rocket struck his car in the parking lot of a college in Sderot.
 
"We are in a war which sometimes exacts a high cost, and sometimes does not," the prime minister said.
 
"We will continue fighting in order for the danger to the residents of the south to end. This is a long process, and a painful one, and we haven't any magic formulas to solve this today. We are suffering painful blows, but are returning more painful blows."
 
Olmert said however that Israel would not change its overall policy in the Gaza Strip. "What is happening today happened a week ago, and is likely to happen in the near future," he said.
 
"No one in Hamas, neither among the low ranks nor among the senior ranks, will be immune to that war," Olmert threatened.
 
The prime minister added that the Palestinians are "testing Israel's patience" to its limit.
 
The prime minister made the comments during a visit to a Nissan factory in Tokyo.
 
Officials: Response to rockets will be harsh
 
A senior defense official said Wednesday night that the Israeli response to the rocket fire on Sderot and Ashkelon is expected to be particularly harsh, and that Israel does not intend to let pass Hamas' decision to escalate its offensive measures.
 
Military sources told Haaretz that in the next few weeks the IDF will complete its preparations for a major ground offensive in the Gaza Strip. However, they added that the final decision on a wide-scale incursion is in the hands of the government, and no decision has been made yet.
 
Discussion over entering Gaza ratcheted up Wednesday following the death of a 47-year-old Israeli civilian who was killed by a Qassam rocket in Sderot Wednesday.
 
Hamas fired some 50 rockets at Israel on the worst day of fighting the Gaza Strip border has seen in more than two weeks. Several rockets hit Ashkelon.
 
Also on Wednesday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak went to Sderot to meet with the heads of communities in the area.
 
Rice: Hamas to blame for Gaza situation
 
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called for the rocket attacks on Israel to stop and blamed Hamas for the situation in Gaza, speaking after a meeting with Olmert in Tokyo on Wednesday.
 
Rice is set to visit Israel and the West Bank next week to try to push along U.S.-brokered peace talks complicated by the growing violence.
 
The secretary of state also voiced concern about Palestinian civilians killed in IDF operations in the Gaza Strip, but stopped short of an explicit call for Israel to exercise restraint.
 
Asked if she had urged Olmert not to use disproportionate force in responding to rocket attacks from Gaza, Rice told reporters: "I think that's not a good way to address this issue. The issue is that the attacks - rocket attacks need to stop."
 
She said she had reiterated to Olmert U.S. concerns for the humanitarian situation.
 
"I am concerned about the humanitarian condition there and innocent people in the Gaza who are being hurt. We have to remember that the Hamas activities there are responsible for what has happened in Gaza ... But, of course, we are concerned about innocent people and we are concerned about the humanitarian situation," she said after the one-hour breakfast meeting.
 
Sources in Olmert's entourage said that he was briefed by the military secretary on the rocket fire against Sderot and the Israeli civilian killed there. The prime minister was informed that the Hamas was responsible for that attack, and the assessment was that it came in response to the killing of six members of Hamas during IDF operations in the morning.
 
However, regarding the possibility of an offensive in the Gaza Strip, Olmert said: "I do not recall speaking even once about a ground operation in the Strip."
 
Earlier, Olmert said that he had not received any concrete offer from Hamas for a cease-fire with Israel.
 


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