Barak says Gaza operations to continue, warns of Sinai plot

As 100 rockets pound southern Israel, IDF aircraft launch operations in Gaza killing a PRC member, hitting terror centers; Defense Minister says Sinai attack still possible; 14 Palestinians killed in retaliatory strikes.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
March 10, 2012 19:22
3 minute read.
An IAF fighter jet takes off [illustrative photo]

IDF IAF fighter jet takes off airstrik air strike 311 (R). (photo credit: Ho New / Reuters)

 
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Military operations in Gaza, a response to over 100 rockets fired at Israel since Friday, are from from over, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Saturday.

"This round in the Strip is still far from completion," Barak said, adding that the operations would probably continue for another day or two. Barak praised the military for what he called precise, complicated strikes against Popular Resistance Committee (PRC) infrastructure.

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IDF aircraft killed a PRC member Saturday in a joint operation with the general defense services, according to the IDF Spokesman Unit. They also attacked two terror activity centers in the North and South of the Gaza strip. 14 Palestinians - 10 of them members of Islamic Jihad - were killed in the strikes and another 20 were injured, according to Palestinian news agency Ma'an.

Barak added that the IDF will remain alert for a possible PRC terror attack coming from Sinai. Offering reassurances to the heads of local authorities in the Southern region, Barak said, "The IDF will hit anyone planning to attack Israeli citizens."

"We will continue improving the capabilities of Iron Dome, which intercepted a very high percentage of the grad missiles fired at Israel since last night," he added.

Senior IDF officials that met regarding the ongoing escalation in southern Israel said on Saturday that the IDF will respond forcefully to any rocket attack against Israeli civilians.

The officials also noted the successes of the Iron Dome system, which has intercepted 27 rockets since the beginning of the escalation on Friday evening.

Palestinians began firing rockets into Israel after an IAF strike on Friday killed the secretary general of the Popular Resistance Committees, Zuhair Qaisi.

Political officials also commented on the attacks. Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said that Hamas is trying to avoid an escalation in the Gaza Strip. "Hamas is doing all in its power to avoid a Cast Lead 2, and is trying to rein in its extremist elements."

Speaking in Beersheba, Vilnai added that the situation in the south will become more clear in the near future. "We will know in which direction this escalation is headed by the evening," he said. "At this point it is up to the other side."


Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) said that Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) secretary general Zuhair Qaisi should have been assassinated a long time ago. "Yesterday Israel's long arm reached him, and that is a good thing," he said.

"Whoever participates in terrorism should expect a similar fate. It is Israel's responsibility to protect its southern citizens. We must not allow ourselves to grow complacent with a situation in which a million citizens are held hostage in shelters."

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon (Israel Beiteinu) said that no terrorist is immune from Israeli strikes in Gaza. "All terrorist leaders in the Gaza Strip, including those of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Resistance Committees, are potential targets," he said.

Ayalon added that "Israel's southern residents will not stay at the mercy of Hamas - the government of Israel will not accept this situation. Terrorist infrastructure will be destroyed and terrorist leaders will be hit."

MK Danny Danon (Likud) said that "we should view a rocket that falls in Sderot the same as a rocket that falls on the Kirya in Tel Aviv, and we should respond in kind."

Danon commended the strike on PRC leader Qaisi, saying that it should be an "example to any and all who take part in terrorist activities in the Gaza Strip- Israel will get you too."

Beersheba Mayor Ruvik Danilovich called on citizens to "continue acting according to instructions issued by the IDF Southern Command."

He added that "even though the Iron Dome is doing good and important work, it does not have a 100% success rate. Citizens should continue to take shelter in protected areas."

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