Mofaz rules out Gaza offensive

3 Kassams fired, 1 at IDF base, none wounded; IDF shelling launch sites.

By ARIEH O'SULLIVAN, ERIK SCHECHTER
December 20, 2005 13:58
2 minute read.
kassam on the ground 88

kassam lands 88. (photo credit: )

 
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Visiting the border of the northern Gaza Strip Tuesday, Defense Minister ruled out a ground offensive to stop the Kassam rocket attacks, but said the IDF would be ratcheting up its response in the future. A few hours after he departed the region, Palestinians fired at least three Kassam rockets into Israel. While all landed harmlessly, it indicated that the IDF has no physical way to stop the attacks other than reoccupying the areas from where they are launched. "We are preparing all options," Mofaz told reporters. "A ground operation is not on the agenda at the moment. We have plenty of room for other maneuvers for the time being." Accompanied by top IDF brass, Mofaz said the defense establishment was working on reducing the Kassam rockets. "I can tell you here that we are considering a series of steps in order to reduce the Kassam rockets and we will use them in the coming days, weeks and months," Mofaz said. So far the IDF has tried to halt the Kassam attacks by shelling access roads to the launching sites, bombing rocket factories and targeting key Palestinian figures behind the attacks. "We don't have many weapons to create deterrence," said Prof. Gabriel Ben-Dor, head of the University of Haifa's National Security Studies Center. "One of the few tools that actually do deter them is to strike them personally." The Palestinians appear to have started targeting the strategic industrial zone south of Ashkelon, but senior military sources said two-kilogram warhead of a Kassam rocket would not likely cause serious damage. They also noted that some 70 percent of the Kassam rockets were fired out of range of Israel and fell inside the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, later Tuesday, Mofaz held his first meeting with US Maj.-Gen. Keith Dayton, the newly appointed American security envoy. Dayton, who arrived on Friday, spent about 40 minutes with Mofaz at his office in Tel Aviv discussing the upcoming Palestinian elections and continued rocket attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip. Dayton, formerly director for operations at the Defense Intelligence Agency, is expected to help troubleshoot between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Earlier Tuesday, a border policeman was moderately wounded during an arrest raid operation conducted by the Border Police and IDF forces in the village of El Yahmoun near Jenin. The policeman was wounded in his leg from gunfire, and was being treated on the scene at the Salem checkpoint near Jenin. The operation, which also included IDF special forces, was still underway. The security teams mostly targeted Islamic Jihad members inside the village and some Hamas members. Meanwhile, IDF forces made 11 arrests overnight Monday inside the West Bank. Nine Hamas members were caught in Kibya, a village north of Ramallah, and in Kabatiya, near Jenin, another wanted man was apprehended. In Hebron, a Palestinian was found with a hunting rifle and knives at his house. He was taken for investigation.

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