IAF strikes Hamas targets in Gaza; 1 dead, 3 injured

"Don't test our resolve," PM tells Hamas a day after two Grad-model Katyusha rockets hit Beersheba for first time since Cast Lead.

By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOV
February 25, 2011 05:33
3 minute read.
Palestinians around a destroyed car (illustrative)

Gaza explosion in car with crowd. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

“I do not suggest that anyone test the State of Israel’s resolve,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned Hamas on Thursday, a day after two Grad-model Katyusha rockets slammed into Beersheba for the first time since Operation Cast Lead over two years ago.

On Thursday night, the Israel Air Force struck Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Palestinian news reports said the attack had been against a car and that one person was killed and three wounded. The IDF said the targets were linked to Hamas and had been involved in terrorist activity.

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Shortly after the rockets smashed into Beersheba on Wednesday night, the IAF bombed targets throughout the Gaza Strip, including launchers the Islamic Jihad had used to fire the rockets. Three members of the rocket- firing cell were wounded.

Later that night, the IAF again bombed a number of Hamas targets, causing extensive damage. The targets included tunnels, weapons factories and military outposts.

Netanyahu said he had instructed military forces to respond to the rocket attack on Beersheba immediately, forcefully and without hesitation.

“We are determined to defend our citizens and we will not tolerate the shelling of our cities and our civilians,” he said Thursday during a press conference with visiting Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk. “No country would agree to this. Israel, too, does not accept this and will act accordingly to defend its citizens.”

Defense Minister Ehud Barak toured Beersheba on Thursday and promised that the Iron Dome antirocket defense system would be deployed in the near future along the Gaza border to defend Israeli towns.



The system underwent a final series of tests last week by the IAF and has been declared operational.

“It will be deployed the moment we have the necessary batteries according to the IDF’s understanding, and what will be best for residents of the area,” Barak said.

Defense officials said the rocket attack on Beersheba probably did not signal the start of a major escalation between Israel and Hamas. In general, the officials said, Hamas was holding its fire and, in some cases, even working to prevent other organizations from launching rockets into Israel. Several hundred long-range Katyusha rockets are estimated to be in Gaza, and the IDF is concerned that the current instability in Egypt will lead to an increase in smuggling into the Strip.

“Hamas is trying to restrain the other groups,” a senior official said. “Islamic Jihad is trying to challenge Hamas and tries to attack even though Hamas is currently committed to the quiet.”

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman instructed Israel’s delegation to the United Nations to submit a complaint to the Security Council and General Assembly over the grad rocket attacks. “Israel will not remain indifferent to these acts,” Lieberman stressed in his statement.

Also on Thursday, the Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus and the Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikva conducted a chemical-missile drill.

In what was described as a successful exercise, 179 “wounded” people were evacuated to the two hospitals after a “chemical missile” fell in Bnei Brak. The exercise had the cooperation of Magen David Adom, the Israel Police, the IDF and its Home Front Command, and the Fire Services.

Doctors, nurses, auxiliary and security workers, social workers, administrators and others participated. Soldiers and mannequins played the role of victims. An alarm sounded at 11 a.m. So as not to frighten patients, staffers or visitors, the public address system announced that a drill had begun. An IDF reserve unit on duty in the hospital wore protective gear, including masks and colorful suits, and began to strip “victims” down to their underwear so they could be hosed down with water. They received initial “treatment” and were sent to the an area near outpatient clinics or the emergency room.

Beilinson deputy director Dr. Ephrat Harlev, who commanded the exercise, said it proved the hospitals were ready to cope with a variety of incidents and to cope well with anything that occurred in real time.


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