'We don't want escalation but attacks won't be tolerated'

Netanyahu addresses rockets from Gaza as IDF thwarts attack from terror cell attempting to fire missiles into Israel; Palestinians report 2 killed.

March 27, 2011 10:54
2 minute read.
A Palestinian terrorist fires a rocket into Israel

Palestinian terrorist 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday said that Israel is not interested in an escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip, but that attacks on southern Israel will not be tolerated.

"In the last two weeks there have been parties attempting to disturb peace and security," said Netanyahu prior to Sunday's cabinet meeting. "We don't want to escalate the situation but we will not hesitate to activate the strength of the IDF," he added.

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The Israeli Air Force on Sunday launched an air strike on a terrorist cell of Palestinians attempting to fire rockets into Israel in Northern Gaza, Israel Radio reported.

According to the report, two members of the cell belonging to the Islamic Jihad were killed and three were wounded.

The incident comes a day after Hamas officials said that its members in Gaza had agreed to halt their rocket fire at Israel if Israel stops launching strikes against targets in the coastal territory.

Hamas spokesman Ismail Rudwan said after a meeting with faction heads over a surge in cross-border tensions, that Hamas was "committed as long as the occupation [Israel] was committed" to restoring a de-facto ceasefire.

Moments before the meeting started, a Kassam rocket exploded in the Eshkol Regional Council. No injuries were reported and no damage was caused.

A senior official of the Islamic Jihad said in London-based  Arabic language daily Al Hayat on Sunday that the organization will launch rockets further than Beersheba and Ashdod if Israel continues its "escalation in the Gaza Strip, targeting our children."

"The Israelis must feel similar pain to the harm they caused us," the official stated.

The group is not interested in going to war, and rockets fired on Israel came in response to IDF operations in Gaza which killed eight innocent bystanders including four children, the official said, speaking in Cairo.

"If Israel stops the escalation, we will abide by the truce...but we cannot be asked for calm at a time when Israel is killing our children in cold blood," the official stated.

On Saturday, OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Tal Russo said on Saturday that "there is anarchy in Gaza and Hamas."

Russo toured the house in the Negev that was hit Friday night by a Kassam rocket and stated that "it is difficult now for Hamas to turn the wheel back."

Late Friday night a Kassam rocket exploded in Eshkol Regional Council area, causing damage to one house but no injuries.

A local official said authorities were searching for a second rocket that had fallen in an open area.

On Thursday, a rocket fired from Gaza exploded north of Ashdod. While there were no injuries, Magen David Adom crew treated a number of people for shock.

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