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(photo credit: Courtesy)
The IDF will operate from the "land, air and sea" to stop rocket attacks on Israel, Defense Minister Amir Peretz told the weekly cabinet meeting Tuesday in the wake of the IDF special forces operation inside Gaza Monday night that killed four Islamic Jihad terrorists on their way to fire Kassam rockets.
Peretz and Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz briefed the ministers on the raid inside Gaza, as well as on the early morning raids in Nablus and the nearby Balata refugee camp that killed three Palestinian gunmen.
The raid into Gaza was the deepest penetration of ground forces there since Israel left the region in September.
Peretz and Halutz also briefed the ministers on Sunday's flare up in the north, with Peretz saying that the Katyusha attacks on the military installation at Mt. Meron, as well as the sniper fire that wounded an IDF soldier were Hizbullah's way of trying to create a "balance of deterrence" with Israel, and as a way to "justify it existence."
Peretz said that the quick and painful response from the IDF persuaded Hizbullah not to escalate the situation. Halutz, however, said that it was unlikely that Hizbullah would just let this incident pass, and repeated warnings of Hizbullah's wish to kidnap IDF soldiers. He said that the sniper fire on the soldier on Sunday might have been part of a failed attempt to kidnap him.
Halutz also said that although the original Katyusha fire toward Mt. Meron was not carried out by Hizbullah, but rather by Islamic Jihad, Hizbullah was involved. He said that the IDF pounded the Hizbullah positions immediately after the sniper fire on the IDF soldier.
In other developments, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert briefed the cabinet on his recent trip to the US, and said he planned on meeting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the near future, although he did not set a date. He warned, however, against having high expectations for the talks.
The security cabinet is scheduled to hold its first meeting under the new government on Wednesday. In addition to Olmert and Peretz, this forum is made up of Vice Premier Shimon Peres, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson, Internal Security Minster Avi Dichter, Justice Minister Haim Ramon, Pensioners Minister Rafi Eitan, Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Industry and Trade Minister Eli Yishai, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, and Culture and Sport Minister Ophir Paz-Pines.