'More options needed against Kassams'

IDF officer tells 'Post' repeated fire shows difficulty in countering attacks.

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December 31, 2006 00:21
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The firing of nine Kassam rockets at the western Negev over the weekend only highlighted the difficulty that the IDF is having in countering the attacks, a senior officer told The Jerusalem Post. Despite Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's decision last week to allow the Southern Command to target rocket cells, the Kassams were fired without any intervention from the IDF. The rockets lightly damaged buildings in Sderot and other Israeli communities just outside the Gaza Strip, although one of them landed in Palestinian Authority territory. Alongside the new operational orders from Olmert, the prime minister decided to maintain Israel's policy of restraint in the face of continued Palestinian violations of the cease-fire in the Gaza Strip. In the past, before the policy of restraint took effect, the IDF was allowed to fire artillery shells at Kassam launch sites in the northern Gaza Strip, from where the rockets are fired at Sderot and other southern communities. The IDF is currently not allowed to fire artillery shells. Therefore, Palestinian terrorists have freedom of movement inside Palestinian villages in the area. IDF sources explained that the actual targeting of Kassam cells was very difficult and was not automatic. "Just because we have the orders does not mean that we are able to thwart the attacks," explained an officer in the Southern Command. The officer said that IDF soldiers rarely succeeded in thwarting Kassam attacks before the rockets were fired, and generally had an opportunity to attack the terrorists only after they launched rockets. "This is a very difficult process that requires advanced technological means and perfect coordination between IDF branches," the officer said. Meanwhile, an Israeli car was lightly damaged on Saturday after it was hit by a Molotov cocktail near Kalkilya. No one was wounded in the attack.

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